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Karen Ruff's Blog

About Karen Ruff
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Bloggers PhotoTraveler: Born in PA, have lived, worked or just visited every state on the east coast plus Arizona, Arkansas, Canada, and Great Britain.
Hat fancier: No, not that kind of hat. Have worked in manufacturing industries--textile and fire arms, education, newspaper, entertainment, plastercraft giftware and insurance.
Gardener and "wanna-be" gourmet cook. Should have been married to a professional taster.
Writer: The only thing I ever wanted to make my living at, but I've been stuck with editing for others and writing work for hire instead of becoming the next Stephen King...or whoever. Oh well, at least some of my students have gone on to success.
Grandma: Four grown children and 10 grandchildren. (My sanity--most of the time)


Most Recent Blog Post

Wonderful Magical Words
Blog Posted:1/13/2014 9:14:00 PM


Having browsed around the blog a bit, and having asked a question or two of those who know, I thought that perhaps it would be appropriate to tell you a little bit more about myself, at least as it relates to some current activities. You don’t want an autobiography, and I promise not to give you one, although I will apologize in advance for the fact that it is much easier for me to expound on a topic than to write Haiku. You get the idea.

Having browsed through more poems than I could manage to comment on individually, I think I see that this site consists of a group of about a hundred or so people--at least who are obviously visible--who are lifetime members, and a bunch more—like myself—who have paid for a premium membership. I did that so it would give me access to some of the other perks on the site; whether or not I become a lifetime member, time will tell.  I see that there are almost too many to count who simply have found it as a place to share their poetry. It’s good that it exists. So few people in the “real” world outside of English classes talk about poetry that the poor starving poets probably feel as if it is a dying art. At least the site lets people see that there are a lot more like themselves.

I am not sure how your contests and other things are supposed to work. It almost seems as though all of the lifetime members know each other and have more personal connections. Maybe not, but it could look that way. That’s fine, of course, but it makes me think that I probably should have lurked awhile, posting poems, and commenting until my “views” reached into the hundreds—if they ever do—like the obvious old timers.. Nevertheless, I never in my life have done anything just a little bit, so if I jumped   from the frying pan to the fire before I should have—well, that’s the story of my life, I reckon. I don’t apologize for that. It’s the way I am.


At any rate, I thought I would share a bit about Wonderful Magical Words which is the title of the textbook I am working on, or at least something about the generation of the work. I have my share of degrees and certificates and various bits of alphabet soup that I could string behind my name if I desired, but the most important one is probably the Doctor of Arts degree from SUNY Albany. The difference between a DA and a Ph.D—at least at that time—is that the DA has more of an “education” emphasis, such as curriculum development, textbook creation, etc. Actually, if anyone ever attended a school in the SUNY system, you might know that the DA and Ph. D were actually more political than true differences. New York State was in an economic crunch, and the colleges were having their graduate programs rationed, you might say. But the Albany campus was not willing to give up their graduate degrees in English, even though the Binghamton campus also had an English Ph.D. So, they changed the name and called it “Doctor of Arts,” and slightly modified a few of the requirements. I had to develop a new college course and find a college that would allow me to teach it, while the Ph.D did not have that requirement. The course I developed was “Native American Literature and Culture,” which I subsequently taught at Mohawk Valley Community College during my years there. The course was wildly successful at the time, and from it I developed the survey text, Alien Language, Indian Words. It is available on the library shelves at SUNY Albany, and I have a couple of copies and the electronic version. 

I have taught on the college, high school and middle school levels, college on both the early and late ends.  I left the public high school arena in 2005 in order to have time—before I get too old—to write my own works and to get back into the college in some capacity. A few years ago, I became the Dean of English and General Studies for an online college known as The Roger Sherman Institute which I referenced in another spot. At Sherman Institute, we believe in a classical, debt free education, and we believe the current emphasis on “common core” and political correctness is destroying the minds of American youth. In addition to an already extensive catalog, we launched a program of graduate courses about a year ago, and this year started working on a long term project of developing home school courses, particularly in English—meaning literature and grammar, and in history. The revisionist history kids are getting today is downright frightening.


I happen to know some folks in Arizona who home school their kids and have never done it any other way. A common complaint among the families is that the literature texts are either copy-cats of the public school, or are overtly religious with too few of the works that make up the vast heritage of English / American literature. Having taught the stuff for what seems like forever, having developed curricula, proofread texts, and written various programs, I agreed to take on the task of creating/compiling a literature text designed to give the student “facility with language,” to use the words of Dr. Sandra Stotsky. (Massachusetts). When it is finally finished, it will be published and reviewed by the founders of Sherman Institute. We hope to follow this first text (about 500 + pages plus parent manual and student workbook as well as recorded lectures) with additional texts/ literature programs for grades 9 – 12.  For me, the current text is all on spec. I will not make any money off of it unless the home school people decide that they like it when all is said and done. The book itself uses magic and magicians as an analogy to show how authors make their words behave in certain ways to create desired effects in the minds of readers.


I stumbled over the Poetry Soup site when looking for selections that would either be public domain, or that I could obtain permission to use for the poetry/ drama unit of the book. I have quite a bit, but there are some forms that I don’t have much of, at least not that I think is “connectable” for 8th graders. I wanted some down to earth—thought provoking but not too adult in tone or subject—sonnets, and I don’t have any Haiku or Limericks which I would also like. Of course, anything that will be used will be “printed by permission;” a good portion of the book is that way.

That’s about all I can tell you at the moment. Perhaps it clarifies a thing or two.

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  1. Date: 2/12/2014 8:44:00 PM
    Re: Your contest on the Shakespearian Sonnet. I have revised my entry to meet your rhyme requirement which I just saw in your notes. Unless you have judged already, please take a second look at my entry, While the Muse Sleeps. I would appreciate it.

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  1. Date: 2/1/2014 10:02:00 PM
    Upon Watching Children in a Tire Swing Thank you so very, very much........this was beautiful. You are a natural storyteller......Namaste

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    Ruff Avatar Karen Ruff Date: 2/2/2014 3:44:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thank you for your lovely comments.
  1. Date: 2/1/2014 9:56:00 PM
    The Adirondacks took me into my backyard, while I was sitting here inside the warm house. Thank you so very much......great writing.

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  1. Date: 1/14/2014 9:03:00 AM
    Welcome here, Karen!!! I like your contest and wish you well with it.

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  1. Date: 1/14/2014 7:41:00 AM
    Howdy Karen ...and welcome!

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  1. Date: 1/14/2014 7:15:00 AM
    Karen,I wish you success in your contests and with the book .I hardly ever participate in contests,but I wish you luck,and welcome to poetrysoup site : )

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  1. Date: 1/14/2014 6:25:00 AM
    Well, first, if you haven't I think you should copy and paste that to your bio section; many of us do like to read those ;) In honesty, yes there are many here who are closer than others; and a couple that are obviously biased. But those true do not let that determine placement in contests. Many of us require that no names or fancy fonts be added. Also, reading about your endeavor to create a more widened avenue of learning for home schooled children is wonderful! It is far past due; my children were not home schooled and I was constantly unhappy with the information being/not being taught. Hoping everything comes together for you Karen!

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  1. Date: 1/14/2014 6:15:00 AM
    As i have just commented on GV blog..we have choices...

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    horsman Avatar harry horsman Date: 1/14/2014 11:16:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    the blog i am referring to as been removed, the writer also a coward and cannot stand behind opinions which they had.....
  1. Date: 1/14/2014 3:03:00 AM
    Hi Karen I don't quite understand why you have posted this, as far as I am concerned I don't need to know anything about you to like or dis-like your poetry. I read and comment, or not, whichever the case. I have made some wonderful friends here and that is what a good poetry site should be about. If you have done this simply to satisfy the demands of one person then I think you are wrong, this is a poetry site not a competition to see who has the "best" "most" qualifications. We are here to share poetry. As far as I know we are all in the same boat rowing in the same direction apart from one person and in that situation that one would always be thrown overboard to calm the waters again....David

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    Ruff Avatar Karen Ruff Date: 1/14/2014 6:08:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    No, David, I didn't do it for one person. A few other people have wondered about the nature of my project, not in hurtful way--just wondering. And after coming up with my project, it occurred to me that maybe some would feel that as a newbie, I had jumped the gun. It isn't my intention to offend anyone or to mislead anybody.
  1. Date: 1/13/2014 10:17:00 PM
    Karen, Welcome!! I'm sure we can share and learn from much you have to offer!

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  1. Date: 1/13/2014 9:55:00 PM
    Dear Karen, you said: ---- ((( At Sherman Institute, we believe in a classical, debt free education, and we believe the current emphasis on “common core” and political correctness is destroying the minds of American youth. ))) ----- 1) My questions: What is the definition of "political correctness", how does it destroy the minds of American youth, and what is so right about "political incorrectness"? ---- 2) Is your online institute an accredited one? ---- 3) Is your online Institute ranked in any list among other regular Colleges? ((( Forbes, US News, Wikipedia )))? 4) What is the "common core", what is wrong with it and what is so right about your "uncommon core"?

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  1. Date: 1/13/2014 9:49:00 PM
    Very interesting, Karen! You're an overqualified Souper! : )

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    Thomas Avatar F. J. Thomas Date: 1/14/2014 8:25:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    LOL thanks Ruben! kidding lol
    Ruff Avatar Karen Ruff Date: 1/14/2014 6:11:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Ruben, thanks--but it isn't my intention to emphasize "qualifications." Some of the best writers the world has ever known never had the first letter to put behind their name beyond Mr. or Mrs. A person can understand and critique any kind of literature with a particle of education, but sometimes all it takes to write something profound is the ability to put words together and heart to sprinkle them with meaning.

My Past Blog Posts

Winning Poems
Date Posted: 3/7/2014 2:14:00 PM
Sonnet competition finished.
Date Posted: 3/7/2014 8:42:00 AM
Seven favorite sonnets
Date Posted: 2/27/2014 6:36:00 PM
How to advice needed
Date Posted: 2/23/2014 1:55:00 PM
Sonnet competition
Date Posted: 2/14/2014 8:53:00 AM
Wonderful Magical Words
Date Posted: 1/13/2014 9:14:00 PM

My Poems

Date PostedPoem TitleFormCategories
4/15/2014Antiques not for SaleBlank versegrandparents,memory,nosta
4/15/2014Eliza's EscapeNarrativeblack african american,fr
3/22/2014Left BehindSonnetnature,
3/20/2014Just a SoldierFree versemissing you,patriotic,sol
2/17/2014We Will Not ComplySonnetcourage,freedom,future,go
2/9/2014The Child and the FlowerRhymecare,children,flower,spri
2/7/2014Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred HonorFree versecorruption,freedom,judgem
2/1/2014The AdirondacksFree versemountains,nature,
1/31/2014Upon Watching Children in a TireSwingFree versechildhood,lost love,remem
1/26/2014Someone Lives, Greater than OurselvesSonnetfaith,god,religious,truth
1/18/2014ConnectionsFree versefriendship,relationship,
1/17/2014Love's Fashion ModelFree versehusband,love,romance,
1/14/2014The Violation of a Secret PlaceFree versechildhood,children,nature
1/13/2014Negative PolesConcretegoodbye,heartbroken,lost
1/12/2014Growing PainsConcrete 
1/12/2014Concrete poem--No titleConcretefarewell,friend,
1/11/2014Abalone SongFree verseabsence,bereavement,care,
1/10/2014Relief of the Autistic ChildBlank versechild,death,
1/9/2014The Rocking ChairRhymechild,christmas,sister,
1/8/2014Seasonal SighFree versenature,seasons,weather,wi
1/7/2014A Sweetheart for DuckRhymeanimal,children,farm,for
1/6/2014The Green PepperFree verseimagery,imagination,natur

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