As mentioned in a previous post, I won the life-changing gift of a scholarship to the 2009 TED conference in Palm Springs. This poetry in the schools project—WordPlay–was selected from the many efforts submitted and represented for the Once Upon a School initiative created by Dave Eggers, as the project most exemplifying the spirit of 826Valencia & 826National. Once Upon a School is where people of the TED Community–anybody who wants to participate, regardless of whether you identify as a TEDster–enroll their own projects of involvement with their local public schools. The only “requirement” is that you bring passion–that you share whatever it is that fires you up–so that the kids of our communities might be lit, engaged, inspired, from your time with them. Whether that be once, for a half-hour, or once a month for the duration of a school year, or weekly; as much or as little time as you have to give. The whole idea is pass it on–the it being something, someone, somewhere you are passionate about. Because if you’re excited about the Civil War or the Dingos of Australia or photography or recumbent trikes or firefighters or feral cats or pitbulls–then that will come through, it will be contagious, and you’ll fuel the interest, perhaps even an equalled passion, in the minds and hearts of the children in your local community.
At the TED conference last week, I saw a guy who’s invented a jetpack; his journey and adventures were inspiring, dizzying. (For those of you unfamiliar with TED, one of the chief ideas is that Anything is possible–and that by coming together and sharing ideas–we can figure out How to make it happen!)
After some video and photos by the jetpack inventor, the Luminescent and Witty and Effervescent Jill Sobule sang her song “Jetpack” live for us! I told my poetry kids about the jetpack invention, played them Jill’s song, and asked them to write a poem about what they would do if they had their very own jetpack.
Where would you go? What would the jetpack look like? Would it have any special features? Would you take anybody or anything with you on your trips? If so, who, what, why? And remember–ANYTHING is possible!
This is the most exhilarated the kids have been with a writing assignment since we did the circus experience. I think their ideas are phenomenal (what heart! what cheek!)–and their art is illuminating (from practical design to sci-fi special effects!)–make sure you check these out.
And please leave comments that I can deliver to the children.Your praise helps them embrace the titles of Poet and Artist. And who among us does not deserve encouragement and celebration for gathering and exercising the courage it takes to be poet-artist wordy-rebels in this world, today?