Monday, October 10, 2011

From MUSE: T4SJ:2011: Youth Speaks

My morning workshop (good band name, heh.). Also, awesome.  Writing workshops you can use in your classroom.  My, ack, freewrites are in here because I thought it made it easier to understand the pidgin-y notes.

Youth Speaks

Life as a Primary Text
Voice. Identity. Power. Imagination.
Uncensored Youth Voice is the most important.
What is most urgent in their lives at the moment.

Arts Ed/Youth Development/Artistic presentation/Community Engagement
Youth Speaks is at the intersection of these four areas
Freirean based organiztion
Brave New Teachers - teacher development program
    you have to be brave about what they are going to say, they are going to challenge you, themselves, others

Framework: no wrong answers (things can be challenged, may be no right answers), and the standard is yourself (i.e., no need to follow traditional poetic forms)

still figuring
rene's daughter
up stander


      in mind
        the world
    the streets
    the page
      the soul
     the body
     San Francisco
        Dolores Park
        Adam's Point
         in my car looking for parking
      Crocker Highlands
   on my scooter
      on Clement Street
  my wife's arms
       with students
      in my kitchen
in hallways at schools
        room 209, room L1
         India, Africa, NYC
 on the soccer fields
        the stage
    dance floor
Cotopaxi Mountain
        Point Reyes
        Lavern Park
 the in-between
        balled up in bed


Why did we do what we just did
    space for sharing, brainstorm, thinking
    see connections, disconnections
    overcome writers block
    starting with yourself
        life as primary text
    palette of words
    takes away the fear of the blank page
        sometimes you have to start with these words
    conversation piece
    gets the mind warmed up - engaged
Started with live, then here, then I - so that we could get eventually to who you are as a person - scaffolding to who are you
    at each column, repeat, asking for answers: ‘what does it mean to live?’ ‘where do you live?’ ‘who are you?’ emphasis varying

“Columns + filling” used for lots of writing exercises
    creating word palette 
many different ways to move things forward - write about the column headings using the words, choose three words from a column, sentence starters, etc.

Young poets want to take on every topic in every poem
and they tend to talk in generalities

moving toward the infinite and the infinitesimal 
five boxes in upside-down pyramid
put e.g., a place right in the middle

my kitchen (middle box) - cooking dinner to celebrate nori's pregnancy, veal chops, pass through counter, takes too long, fava bean process, pomegranate soda for nori

boxes up and down as both time and scope of that story
two above, two below

one up - larger story of family - story of our wedding ceremony (d, n, j, k) - and of the rest of the family there

another up - that story is about community, beginnings, ceremony, deciding on principles of living

one down - we should be cooking dinners more - we don't anymore
missing family dinners and sitting down

two down - we sat down every night at the table to eat - dad falling down pretending to die whenever we had artichokes, sum and i laughing hysterically

encourages kids to have faith in their brain
your brain makes connections all the time
you don't have to force connections

FREE WRITE - no stopping writing at all for full 5 minutes. you cannot cross out, you must keep writing
you can change - but just like in oral you correct and keep going forward

either of two bottom boxes
write about that moment - you can bring in everything else (the larger ideas) along with the moment, but focus on the moment.

When I was a child, my family had dinner together every night.  It was a big deal.  Sometimes we had the tv on, but usually that just pissed my mom off. She hated having the tv on. my dad love d it and so did my sister and i.  There was a big spider plant that sat beneath the glass of our round bamboo-y table.  It was the early 80s people loved that shit.  We had artichokes a lot.  It is northern california after all. and they were one of my favorite foods, still are.  We played a lot at the table.  One game that happened every time we played i mean ate artichokes was that once we got down to the hearts, and my parents would help us scoop out the prickly choke to get down at that goodness, my dad would always - always - and if he didn't we would sneakily or so we thought tell him to by telling him not to. He would always put a part of the choke in his mouth, the fuzzy purple part. and pretend to choke, to fall out of his chair, and to die.  Liketysplit, he had two little girls out of their chair and on top of him.  Kissing him to life like in fairy tales, begging him daddy not to die.  And then he'd sit up, great big grizzly bear style and grab us. and we'd go back to dinner.  and we'd each eat the best, tenderest, morsel, like the pearl in the oyster, except more like the oyster, and then it was time for a bath.

everyone holds up and shows
then reading volunteers
look to see where the larger stories, larger themes are in the stories, how are they woven in?

The idea of this upside-down triangle framework
    all based in our own lives, no outside texts
    if we only have kids talking about the top level, their voices become muddled - they are just one of many voices saying the system sucks -- providing a counter narrative to what "the american people think" but providing their own, specific voices, own specific identities - clear, differentiated, honest stories -- not muddled or general

Telling our stories opens up a space for them to tell their stories
we must be open and honest, about our selves, about the things we don't know.

Youth Speaks comes into classroom, doesn't talk about the book you’re reading, specifically, does writing workshops around themes from that book - allows students to engage with the books, identify with themes in the book
changing dynamic from 1 book, 30 students --> 31 stories in conversation

taking the bus
how to get what you need
reading the world
emotional awareness
context awareness
recognizing hegemony
critical thinking
informed choice

who am i
who am i not
groups of people
what i eat
indigenous heritage
my feelings about myself
music, clothes
tradition, ritual, food
learning differences

Your identity at this moment in this place

At this moment, in this place, I am ….

A tangible object that someone can touch that can represent my identity … oh jesus.
a pen?

sherman alexie
poet, novelist, front man of all indian rock band (awesome!)

Has been attacked by older native american writers for taking about negative native American stereotypes
He says it's still there - doesn’t matter if we don’t like it, it’s part of the culture.

Drums as Love, Fear, and Prayer
Drums make everyone feel like an Indian
read out loud

Seven-ten minutes: write a poem with your cultural artifact as the central repeating thing
And also you must find a way to love yourself in the next seven minutes

I pick up my pen every day
Although I'm on an iPad
I pick it up and I hold it in front of me
In front of a blank page
And I hold it
And hold

I stare
For a while
I cannot twiddle this pen
I must hold the pen
Something will come
Or nothing will come
And there I am

I might be on the paper
The white paper
The black black slashes
Blood black
Night black
Black like ink on paper
The platonic ideal of black
On white paper

On empty page
And there I am

Pen still poised
Pen still poised
Staring back at myself in the blank white paper

I take my pen
I copy out poems from donne, for the play of it, from Snyder, because I'm feeling sensual with the trees and the bears, from books and books and books
And all these words
From my pen
And other words
And there I am on the page
There I am in the ink
There I am

The importnce of loving youraelf 

The use of the secondary text.  What was the point of it?
What did it do?
Model: What did it model?
   Use of repetition
   Other forms
   Number forms
It did not:
intimidate - instead it gave you a focus, a way of doing

Teen identities are so constructed in the media
We need to give them space to construct their own identities
We need fewer boxes
Expanding frames of reference
Examples and options for them to choose from, not a frame they have to follow
Primary thing: write your own stories

We chose our own stories, identities, cultural artifacts before we were given a model
Then given the space to write freely, to read and listen freely
   “What does that mean to you” is the extent of the questioning --We do not ask them to provide right answers about the meaning
Ts Eliot said that when he is done with a poem it is the reader's to do what he wants with, to make meaning of

You said this, but what do you mean by that
What did we mean by I live here

The frameworks get the conversation going, the palette of words that are developed changes moment by moment

Whiteboard as a place for exchange, rather than directives
The whiteboard is the focus point of the classroom

Sharing is to affirm the idea
Spelling comes later
Start with the affirmation, start with the individual as the standard. Anything goes.  You might be challenged for your ideas but you are not. Wrong.

This post was also published on MUSE '13

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