I'm excited that I managed to write every single day, and I'm hoping that I can keep up the habit in the coming months.
For my final day, I wanted to share a moment that is still echoing inside of me.
My creative writing students spent a great deal of time this past week reading and listening to poetry. We looked at different poetic elements and forms, but mostly, we responded to how the poetry impacted or didn't impacted us.
I created a Sweet 16 Poetry Bracket on one of my walls, and the students searched for poems that they felt belonged on that bracket.
Today we listened to first two contending poems: "OCD" by Neil Hilborn and "I'm Sorry" by FreeQuency. One, obviously, deals with OCD. The other deal with the way our society speaks about rape. Both poems are intense, and both poems have the power to make an audience uncomfortable.
After having the students respond to the poem in writing, I took a seat on my stool in the front of the room and asked them to listen carefully to me.
"Raw and incredible writing is not always appropriate for the general classroom. It requires a great deal of respect, reflection, and maturity. With that said, my classroom should not be a place that crosses your personal boundaries. If you feel the poems we read today cross your personal boundaries, I will redraw mine for this classroom. Send me an email or talk to me after class if topics like this are too much for you."
I went on for a few more minutes, but then asked them to share their responses to either of the poems with their table partners.
I noticed one boy, who is usually rather outspoken, silent and staring blankly at his paper.
I pulled him aside as students filed out for their next class.
"Was that second video too much for you? I do not want you to feel uncomfortable in here."
"Not at all. It's just... it's sobering. I'd never really thought about it. I just didn't know what to say."
Sobering. Poetry can be sobering.
In that moment, I was reminded of my own high school self discovering poetry that angled my view of the world. Anis Mojgani. Buddy Wakefield. George Watsky. Sarah Kay.
Sometimes the lines need time to turn and settle in us.
The words need us to be patient. To wait. To let them linger and echo in us as we grow.
My heart aches. This is why I write. This is why I read. This is why I teach.