Wednesday, April 20, 2011
For more information on the Urban Youth Literary Arts Program, please visit: http://www.woodlandpattern.org/workshops/kids.shtml.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The first thing Mr. Dunning's students may have noticed when we walked through the classroom was our 5-foot tall dressmaker's mannekin wearing layers and layers of hats, scarves, t-shirts and jackets. We brought our inanimate friend along because the theme of our workshop was "Fashion & Clothing: What I Wear and Why I Wear It."
After discussing how sense imagery is a tool writers use to give life to flat words on a page, we asked students to touch and feel clothing and then describe the tactile imagery of a wooly hat, the visual imagery of a checked scarf, the auditory imagery of stomping tennis shoes.
We also read three poems in which the characters expressed a strong connection to the shoes they wore, then discussed how a person's clothing choices can influence personal identity, as well as how others perceive you. Mikelle illustrated by pulling articles of clothing off our mannekin and asking students to shout out what kind of a person would wear that: "A preacher!" "A business person!" "An old lady!" "My teacher!" Though my favorite (considering many of the clothes were mine) was "A bum!"
Later we discussed how symbols are used in poetry and how they show up in clothes as logos. Students talked about what they thought the purpose of logos are and why a person would buy one brand over another. Then the students did a hands-on writing exercise, writing a poem on fabric about what their OWN brand of clothing would be like, if they could design something that represented them and drew an accompanying logo. Other students wrote stories about their most or least favorite clothes and illustrated their writing with an image of that piece of clothing. Mr. Dunning's students were excited readers and creative writers and we had a wonderful time working with them!
Friday, March 25, 2011
We took a few minutes to inspect the student artwork lining the hallway until a student came to the door and told us they were ready. We stepped inside, introduced ourselves, and got started.
Each student received a pre-made booklet with four poetry exercises within. The first page asked the kids, "If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?"
The second page asked the kids to imagine what they would do if they really were that animal. They used adjectives, verbs, and adverbs.
The third page had the kids use the poetic convention of simile to think more deeply about their animals and how they relate to them.
On the last page, the kids made a rhyming poem about their animals. Even Ms. Balistrieri took a seat and participated in the workshop along with her students. Some of the poems turned out very funny!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Jean Feraca advised “When you write poetry, less is more…whittle down to essence…what you pull out can be another poem and another and…” She told her class to be ruthless. “All good writing is well-edited,” she said, “You (if you are lucky) are the editor.”
Reading examples of personal essays and memoirs, from Primo Levi to Vivian Gornick to her own I Hear Voices, Feraca guided workshop participants into the essence of what writing and memoir, in particular, are about. “What makes it worthwhile is you become aware of yourself. The only real reason to write is to find the truth of your life— and to tell it.”
“Organizing comes later…get it down on the page,” she pushed. “The idea is to generate yeast— germs that can sprout later.” Feraca wanted students to understand the generative process of rewriting; “ It’s as Natalie Goldberg says, ‘Write it. Rip it up. Write it to write it again.’”
“The most important thing is to allow the thing to unfold in it’s own time…you don’t need to know everything in advance.” She urged them to tell their stories without agenda and without over or under-valuing their meanings; “That’s the way you have to deal with it: as a metaphor for our time, not just a memoir of your time.”
In case you missed it, check out:
• Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
• The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative by Vivian Gornick
• I Hear Voices: A Memoir of Love, Death and the Radio by Jean Feraca