Learning From the Leaders

Posted 27 August 2013 12:00 AM by Toni Bee, City Spotlights Poetry Teaching Artist

This summer at CPAC has been extra special for I have taught and simultaneously learned. Of course my mission is poetry and urging the unique and artistic grasping of that within young. But much of what I have tried to do is open a different door of thinking.

Different defined means ‘out of the ordinary’ and as budding artists the first steps in moving forward in the arts is accepting ones own ‘otherworldliness” if you will.

The second step is embracing and even respecting the uniqueness of others. That is what makes a person international – and I want to see our young Bostonians bloom in a garden of diverse wildflowers (that’d be other artists)

Being Unique

During my first session with the teens they created their own I am list as a group and wrote poetry from that perspective. I realized, ‘well this list IS a poem’. That was the easy road. The potholes came during my second session when I had the artists re-read aloud - in circle, in front of their peers - the words they proclaimed from the list. Not simple to admit ‘I am joy’, ‘I am jealous’, and ‘I am perfectly imperfect’. A bit of a challenge to hold a mirror back up to oneself - but applaud the boldness of the teens for doing so then creating awesome, soulful art from it. Their boldness allows me to be a teaching artist willing to learn and become unique with new instructional methods…

Being a Learner

Something that has been a delight is taking cues from the Bloomers, allowing their words to pollinate and honey-Fy its way into my lectures. Teens need and want to be heard (even if their attitude suggests the opposite). Proving that you heard said teen validates that teen…and their peers. So this summer I had the kids create at least five poems BUT that was in response to one of the leaders saying ‘next time you come, let’s write more’. Then there was the FromMusicToPoetry session and at its conclusion seeing a downcast face and hearing him mention ‘I wanted to tell you about more producers I know’. It was pertinent in my last session to get a Producer’s List from the artist. Now, the teens can write more poetry to varied rhythms – and so will I.

It was an honor impressing upon the teens to create with emotion, to accept their artistic selves and others, and it was terrific to teach but ultimately to learn from these budding artistic teens. The same upcoming leaders who – maybe 10 years from now- I will pay to see on the stage of some fancy theater…in some city…in our international world.

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