Starting the New Year off right: I've spent the past couple weeks launching some new programs with nonprofit partners Literary Cleveland and Lake Erie Ink. I'm excited to share what I've learned so far. To me, this work feels like a continuation of my journey as a writer and teacher with a passion for helping people express themselves and develop their craft.
Last night, I taught the first session of Advanced Poetry with Lit Cleveland, and eight participants spent a couple of hours going deep into the poetry revision process, talking about the poems "Butter" and "Brutal" by Andrea Cohen, and then performing surgery on their own work. Be careful when trying this at home! In this revision exercise, writers are invited to use scissors to cut up printed versions of their poems and then rearrange the lines -- and line endings -- for different effects. The results were interesting. Some folks hardly changed their poems. Others surgically removed a line or word here and there to nice effect. And others ended up with radically pared down versions of their pieces. (There were no paper cuts and only minor injuries, mostly bruised feelings.) The photo above is what I came up with when I cut up Andrea Cohen's poem "Butter" and made my own found poem.
But wait, there's more!
I've also been working with Lake Erie Ink on a program at the Mandel Jewish Day School. Last week, I taught a poetry lesson to a group of seventh graders where we identified some key poetic devices, completed a Mad Libs style exercise based on Seamus Heaney's poem "Blackberries" where they had to try to fill in some of the blanks with their own creative ideas, and then listened to the author read the classic poem. Tomorrow, I'm attending a panel discussion with two community change makers who will discuss how and why they do the work they do in Northeast Ohio. The students will have a chance to ask questions of the nonprofit leaders and will learn about how to take interview notes and develop their own questions. In the coming weeks, I'll be working with the students to complete more interviews of change makers and write profiles.
Finally, I'm excited to be working with Lake Erie Ink and Cleveland.com to help coordinate Write About Now, a student journalism and writing program launched in memory of arts reporter Nikki Delamotte, who died tragically. Nikki had a passion for youth and was an avid volunteer with Lake Erie Ink. For 10 Tuesdays this winter, students in grades 8-12 will work with writers at Cleveland.com to learn about and engage in journalism projects, ultimately working to publish original work on their site. They'll also receive a stipend after completing the session.
I can't believe it's already January 15th ...