writing from the heart

 So this writing practice, going on for 38 non-consecutive days now, has been a highlight of this winter/spring. Mostly poems are what happen when I write, even some that I have shared here. Sometimes the writing opens these doors into the past, just by giving time and attention to even one small aspect, more details come and memories that I didn’t know I had. But a lot of times, what I am writing about is the present. And I think about how the photography and poetry are just two different manifestations of the same impulse: to show you something ordinary so you see it or think about it differently.


Knitting update:
The Birthday Knitting has slowed to a crawl. I am knitting the Gaptastic Cowl which is SEED STITCH, easy, slow, and boring at best, and I have now ripped it out twice. But the third time is the charm. It’s a beautiful gray yarn (like the photo in the pattern), so very squishy and yummy, and I am not upset about the ripping out part. With so many things in life that cannot be redone, why not relish those opportunities to make things exactly how you envision them?
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the alternative education program and, as always, I found myself completely moved by seeing/participating in alt ed in action. I was there to ask them to work on writing content about their program for our high school’s website. As is typical in most alt ed programs, it was mostly boys, about 15 boys, 3 girls. (We could talk about why traditional education seems to be failing our young men…).

So we sat around this table together, 7 students, 2 teachers and me. I introduced the idea of having them tell the story of what their program is, outlining the Description, Philosophy, and Rationale, instead of having the program director write it. And I don’t know what they thought of me, but I was completely floored by them. I had written some guiding questions to get them going and shared those by reading them aloud. They had questions for me, articulated their thoughts, asked intelligent questions of each other and of their teacher. There was a high level of comfort with the process and each other. What it felt like was engaged learning at its finest, youth empowerment before my eyes, and the level of engagement felt more like a college or private school classroom than a public high school classroom. I able to reflect back to them what I was seeing and how impressed I was.

IMG_0409Yet my heart broke when the students expressed frustration at how they are perceived: as delinquents, drop outs and problem kids, pregnant girls, drug users. But here they are: showing up for an education that has not been easy, and in a public school institution that has failed them, and now they have this second chance. Do the students know how lucky they are to have landed in this program (and some who come, don’t last it’s true)? That what they are getting IS different from regular school and wow, it’s freaking awesome.

As I was leaving, shutting the door, I heard one student say: “This is exciting! As long as we can write from the heart.”

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One thought on “writing from the heart

  1. Those photographs are awesome!!! And I greatly appreciate what you have written here – especially about the kids in the alternative ed class. What an opportunity for them to express how they feel about their lives, which I know, for them can feel so out of control. I am familiar with that feeling – I felt like that when I was in grade and high school – there just weren’t any alternative ed classes then. These kids are being given a little slice of empowerment – and who knows, it just might go a very long way.

    I was attempting to comment on your “writing from the heart,” when I just happened to look up through the trees leading off into the woods. The Sun was shining its last bit of awesome light through the branches. It was like a giant spot light up there on top of that hill, and seemed to only drop a little bit every time I looked away. So I decided to quit writing and go outside to watch it directly without turning away. In a way it became like watching water boil, but at least it didn’t descend any tiny bit without me catching it. So I can report that yes indeed the sun will descend while being watched – just as water will boil when being watched – you just have to be really patient. I suppose that might be a kind of metaphor for writing from the heart – don’t look away just because it can be a slow process or you might miss the good stuff rising to the surface…

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