Friday, May 08, 2015

The Poetry of Everyday Things I: The Revolution Will Start With Words

If my life were a poem, it would be freeform. Maybe a little angry, like a poetry slam. There would be sappy moments where I go on about love and life and meaning; there would be stabby moments of indignation and pointy swear words. With just a soupcon of ennui.

This isn't something I normally just sit and think about, but it's a question that was raised earlier this week and it led me to think about it. And to ponder about how the past week as been filled with poetry—tangible and imagined.

It all started the Thursday before last.

I was scheduled to get attend the OWFI conference, something I've been looking forward to all year. Of course, life being what it is, this is also the night when my son's school scheduled a poetry night where a few of his poems would be featured and he could read them. Do I go and learn something and enjoy the free buffet? Or do I support my 13 year old kid who is actually asking me to go somewhere in public with him?

I think you know my choice.

And it was amazing. I heard poems and stories that moved me, made me laugh, cringe and cry. These kids? They have words. Big words, powerful words, and the feelings to back them up. The night opened with a slam-style poem read by two girls, about being "unpretty." And that theme was carried through the night.

Think we adults are the only ones who want to lash out against unrealistic expectations in the media? Think again. These girls (in this case) want to be seen and valued for who they are, what they are, what they look like as perfectly imperfect beings.

These kids spoke of love—unrequited, fulfilled, romantic, unconditional—and their craving to have it. They demanded acceptance and spoke weary words of feeling alone. They encouraged standing up and doing the right thing, saying NO or saying YES and it rivaled any TED Talk I've seen on YouTube.

At the beginning of the night, the teacher passed out a few clipboards with writing prompts on them, for parents or kids to fill in. At the end of the night, the poems were collected and volunteers read them aloud. This was the student-generated poem:

The next day, I did go to the conference as planned, and I carried the reading with me. I told everyone I ran into—are you worried about the next generation? Don't be. They have words and they aren't afraid to use them.

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