Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whose Words These Are?

I know this looks a lot like the last post, but it is on the west side of the renga, note the sunlight on SITE Santa Fe and how I am dressed for warmer weather.  It also features stanzas of all three Tres Chicas, a happy accident which Axle Contemporary Gallery (of recent PBS Colores fame) was kind enough to document.  My verse, having served six weeks, will retire to be seen no more, until the book comes out this spring. Can't wait.  Each entry illustrated by original art.  I made a farewell cameo appearance to visit my stanza.  It's still happening, the world's shortest poetry event, every Friday at 4:45.

Besides that I have been busy with ArtWorks, taking poetry into public schools and then taking students to live poetry.  This year we decided on classic poetry, a reading called "Whose Words These Are I think I know."   It was challenging to find poems that were fun but not cute or smarmy, deep but not incomprehensible. We settled on a baker's dozen from A.A. Milne to e e cummings, Dickinson to Lorca, poems the three of us readers, Jonathan Richards, Oliver Prezant, and myself could agree on and enjoy performing.  I am really  looking forward to this.  I already worked with four classes, call and response to "all in green went my love riding" and I dressed all in very bright green. I also found out, since this is a poem of the hunt, that the students of Eldorado Community School are hunters. Many hail from Pecos. They loved echoing my dramatic words, "The swift sweet deer, the red rare deer." Everything you ever wanted to know about alliteration.  And "A narrow fellow in the grass" led to me discover that every single student had seen a snake.  I am sure I didn't see a snake till I was much older. New Mexican kids.

There is often a story when you visit a class.   This time I ate lunch with the wonderful fourth grade teacher.  I asked if any of the students' writing was a surprise and she mentioned that one person read at a much lower level and yet wrote a true poem.  That person was the first to stand up and read and when we broke for lunch, stayed to read more of the poem as the others marched off to lunch.  I keep this person anonymous,  except inside me it is yet another example of how the arts break us open, turn us into our best selves, not always but often enough.  As Yeats said, that we "are blessed and can bless."

I am so grateful for ArtWorks, for Axle, for Emily Dickinson, and for my chartreuse pants I spotted in a St. Vincent's de Paul's thrift store. I didn't know I was purchasing e e cummingswear.  I suggest you try call and response, reading a poem and having it echoed by the kids.  It is the most fun I had all week. Delicate.  Not even the rain has such soft hands.

I also send admiration for the amazing teacher who gives the third grade kids "Vitamin Words"each week, the likes of "ubiquitous" and "diligent."  These teachers I meet are the finest humans on earth.
So, I am praying for snow in all the right places, but not enough to keep me from poetry.