Thursday, March 14, 2013

"You are the author of you!"

—I think this is what we call "agency." Right? Maybe? But in middle school, which is where the grad poets and I were these last two days, such words don't fly.

Other words did, though. We were writing poems. About West Virginia. Really, really good poems.

Along the way, we learned some pretty amazing things.

For instance, do you know about squirrel brain soup? We didn't. And of course I got confused and immediately pictured squirrel face soup... the little nose and eyes looking up from the bowl, etc. But that's not how it is, just so you know. And grandmas make it. So if you want some, you'll probably need to be or find a grandma.

Anyway, wow: the kids (110 of 'em!) we met at West Preston Middle School were awesome.

We talked of everything from hunting and dirt bikes to aggressive chickens and snow days and what poetry is (some of them: "it rhymes." me: "sometimes"). We also learned about special names for special mountains and favorite trees and a dog named Coal, because that's "the center of our state."


Our thanks go to the students who wrote beautiful, surprising, evocative poems; to their teachers, Mrs. Kibler, Miss Collins, and Mrs. Peaslee (I was "Miss Mary Ann" while I was there...); and to CTB/McGraw-Hill for sponsoring the workshop.

We had a great time, as you can see from these photos. And, again: wow: middle school is intense! I had to take a nap after day one. How do these kids and teachers do it every day?

Oh, and lest you think the girl in red—Sydney, pretty sure—was unhappy with the writing, let me assure you: she wasn't. When I asked, on day two, if these sixth graders needed more time to write and revise or were ready to type, she said, "ready!" And you know what: she was. She wrote a terrific poem; she's a poet.

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