As AWP Turns, Day Three: You’re The Boss of Your Poem!

With really young people, the teaching strategy is obvious: get out of their way.             

Philip Levine

The K-12 Pedagogy workshop was a great way to start the day.  Various writers in the schools programs across the country weighed in on the best way to step into a classroom and teach as a guest.  I liked the rules from one poet in the schools the best:

  • No yelling.
  • No teasing.
  • No rules.
  • You’re the boss of your poem.

I especially love the last one.  I think I’m going to use it with my college students.  Get a load of this excerpt from a grade schooler’s poem about hands:

My hands are everything.

My hands rock the sea.

My hands remember my hamster.

My hands are sewing the big blue blanket above you.

My hands hold the earth so it does not fall.

Sigh.  It’s hard to write after that. 

Another presenter talked about stepping in as a guest in the classroom, suggesting guest teachers, “contact classroom teachers about what their needs are, develop a rapport, find out what the teacher wants and build on what’s already being done.”  She emphasized making positive references to the teacher in the classroom and treating the teacher as a peer and expert!

I value that she was telling us this but part of me wants to say, well, duh!  Of course the teacher IS a peer and expert. Jeez.  Does this really need to be said?

I guess it does.

Went to a presentation on moving from writing the short story to the novel that was entertaining but not particularly useful.  Everyone was speaking off the cuff, some better than others.

Picked up another pile of stuff at the book fair; I better slow down or I’m going to have to send stuff home.  Some amazing stuff though is up for the giveaway:

Vintage Didion

America, America by Ethan Canin (advanced readers proof!)

Secrets of the Sea: Nicholas Shakespeare

Two most recent issues of Poets and Writers.

Four Issues of The Writer

Two Gettysburg Review art calendars.

Three Georgia Review Mini Notebooks.

Ran into Allan Cheuse in the escalator line and got a big hug.  He looks great; planning to go to his reading with Edwidge Danticat tomorrow. 

Finally ended up at a workshop on creative writing opportunities in the UK which was interrupted in the middle by a fire drill.  Too bad, if it weren’t for the drill, I would have been able to stay inside all day–it’s mighty nasty out!

Now, I’m off to Nintendo World per directives from the kids.

Bye y’all!



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3 responses to “As AWP Turns, Day Three: You’re The Boss of Your Poem!

  1. Wow. She began with “treat the teacher as a peer and expert,” but the underlying message is that the teacher is neither.

    I’d get on my soapbox but it’s late and you’ve already heard it anyway. Preaching to the choir.

    Can’t wait to see the goodies!

  2. tim

    Peer and expert? In a K-12 classroom? I won’t even let my freshmen call me by my first name, and I essentially am their peer age-wise. I wish I could have been there to hear the talk.

    I think I’m gonna load up on the comments so I can win a goody this time. All the stuff sounds so great!

  3. Cindi Hoppes

    I have been thoroughly enjoying your take on your trip! I don’t understand much of the writer’s jargon, but I hope to learn via your site. Thanks,Cindi

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