|Poem created using the text of What the river wants, by Sina Queryas|
When my students write, I write with them, and so I am pleased to report that I have a few new poems to add to my current manuscript-in-progress; the energy and enthusiasm of these young adults is wonderfully contagious and most of the work I am creating right now is thanks to them.
What else does a visiting-poet do in an enormous middle school in North York? Besides preaching poetry, that is? Well, let’s see. I get lost in the halls quite a lot. I lug slippery armfuls of poetry books around with me and get chalk all over my poetic black clothes. I enjoy sneaking multiple cups of cold coffee from the staff room. I jam-up the photocopier almost every time I touch it; the Amesbury photocopiers EAT poems and spit them back up. I eavesdrop on the teachers at lunchtime while pretending to read The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. It’s my dream job, folks!
And this week: a student who got kicked out of the class during my lesson approached me in the hall asking for the poems he’d missed. Two beautiful girls wrote a poem together and gave it to me to keep. A young man read “What Kind of a Person” by Yehuda Amichai to his classmates with outstanding gusto. Finally, I successfully directed four boys out into the hall after a scuffle emerged in the classroom after a “barber-slap"(a barber-slap is a light tap or slap on the back of the neck or head given to someone after they've had a haircut—!) escalated into a full-blown dance-party in the classroom. Everyone and no-one saw what happened. I was shaken. The teacher was upset because she had only stepped out of the room for a few minutes. There were tears, giggles, reprimands, apologies. And then we got back to reading and writing. This is the beauty and privilege of being in the classroom; life and poetry intersect here. Language is beautiful and alive. Breathing. Getting up on it’s feet.