Sunday, December 11, 2011

Back from the Land of Mo, or, Why I no longer teach middle school/Junior high aged kids

You know what's awesome?  Going halfway through your first lecture on day one day as a guest in your friend's classroom before discovering you did in fact catch the flu from your six year old son and being forced to locate the nearest bathroom in order to expel everything you've eaten in the past 18 hours.

Yes.  I became physically ill in first hour of a full day of talking poetry with 7th and 8th grade students.  Now, for those of you who do not know, I am not quiet while in the act of being physically ill.  The sound I make when in the act of 'regurgitation' is akin to the African Lion's roar.  To be honest, I was genuinely surprised nobody from the school came in the to the boys room like villagers carrying torches and pitchforks looking for the monster which was obviously transforming behind the second stall.

After rinsing my mouth, I returned to the school where I had the joy of talking poetry with these kids almost non-stop for the next six and a half hours. Some highlights include the following:

Being asked what my favorite color is EVERY hour of the day.  Sometimes, more than once.

Being asked why I wasn't wearing a shirt which happened to be my favorite color.

Being asked what my favorite animal is.

Being asked my opinion on Wikipedia.

Being asked my opinion on Justin Bieber.

Now, there were plenty of students who asked plenty of great questions about poetry.  Some of the better questions about poetry led to discussions about my ideas of the hidden narrative, the creation of a narrator, and the importance of lying in poetry---so the fact is the first day went quite well, all things considered.

Part Two: Things turn weird

Day two was a lot better.  I was able to get the kids to write a haibun for their workshop.  It's a pleasant twist on the familiar "I see" poem, using that poem to inform the prose paragraph of the haibun and then writing a haiku inspired by the paragraph.  Needless to say, things went a lot smoother on day two.

I also received a phone call right in the middle of one of my workshops from my school back here in Nevada, asking me about the eligibility of a student.  Now these were the first 'days off' I have had in a few years, and to receive this phone call on top of everything else going really put the zap on me.

I will say this, before you think I am just complaining.  I had a lovely time both talking poetry and spending time with my friend, Scott.  I can see doing this on a semi-regular basis, as long as I have time to rest between  stints.  And it would definitely be a plus if I didn't get sick next time.

Part Three:  Good News

On Friday, I paid my friend to record me reading my book.  We hunkered down in my grandmother's basement with his $5,000 portable recording studio and we knocked out the entirety of Town for the Trees.  I know I made a few mistakes, but my friend is a genius and I know he is going to make me sound incredible and the entire project as professional as is humanly and technologically possible.  That means in the near future you will be able to purchase the audio book version of TFtT and quite possibly hear my voice reading my poems for the first time.  How awesome for you!

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