Wednesday, July 19, 2017

We Are Citizens! We Project Voice @WritingProject @CWP-Fairfield @FairfieldU

When several teachers and I united to dream up a two-week collaboration with NWP support, we weren't quite sure where it would take us. What happens when you hire a digital, Ted-Talk Diva, a playwright and Op-Ed enthusiast, and a hip hop artist (all who teach) to collaborate in a special program called Project Citizen: Flying Lessons from the Prose?

Truth is, no one knows! But we are finding out.

In room 009 of Canisius Hall, the three teachers, one undergraduate assistant, and a special guest teacher, are leading a super diverse community off learners from urban schools, suburban schools, high-powered wealthy schools, and impoverished schools. Included, too, are special guests from a Lakota Sioux tribe reservation in S. Dakota. We are uniting the kids to discuss democracy, language, books, and the power of writing. We are seeing what we will get.

Yesterday, we united Project Citizen with several seniors in a College Essay lab to see what would happen if we discussed language and the power of sentences together. Out of nowhere, to prove a point, I simply listed the alphabet on a white board, A - Z. As the kids responded to a different prompt, I drafted a quick poem using all the letters of the alphabet to prove a point.

"To have a voice in the United States," I discussed, "one simply needs to remember the alphabet...and then with letters come words. If you know who you are, who your people are, and what you believe in, you can find language - using the alphabet - to write your world."

I challenged the kids to see what they could do in a few minutes and the room went quiet. This was not a chosen exercise, but spur of the moment to show the diversity of language. BOOM. 35 minutes later they were all writing, inspired to tell their own story in poetic, alphabet style (in the afternoon, I learned that the kids really loved the activity...shoot. I didn't get to what I planned. Such is the teaching life).

I honestly wish I had someone to record everything that is amazing about CWP in the summer. I can't be everywhere at once, but this is the scene (photo above) of every room. KIDS WANT TO WRITE. WE SIMPLY NEED TO WRITE THEM.

Super Diversity, 2017.

My "Alphabet Poem"

A merica is
B odacious shenanigans,
C alifornia to Maine,
D eleware to Washington, a
E volutionary, revolutionary hodgepodge,
F rick-frack, knick-kack, tally
G agging crick-crack of 
H eaven and hell on Earth.
I am, because we are…
J ust us, this surplus of diversity &
K nowledge swirled at a college
L earning to laugh and laughing at what we learn. 
M y desire? What I yearn? To earn more
N incompoop status,
O nomatopoeia fat a@@! who is writing
P oetry in symmetry, a cacophony of 
Q uixotic serenity, this 
R idiculous complex simplicity, 
S imple complexity
T ying us all together…
U nited fates of America—
V arying states of America —
W hacked chums & mates of America,
X-tracting hate from America…
Y es, you is, America. We are! We is…with a 
Z illion and one possibilities of fulfilling funky joy. Oh Boy.
I am heading into Wednesday loving everything about everything I do. Lucky. Full of hope. And appreciative of what the Writing Project has made me.

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