I Hate Goodbyes


It was really hard to say So Long to my poetry kiddos at the end of the school year. (Especially since my husband’s being laid off means we may not be in Florida again by the time the next school year comes along.)

On the last day the kids created artwork for their poetry chapbook covers. Many of them, to my surprise, feature Luke & me. Well, the Luke part isn’t so surprising, really–but seeing myself drawn in markers and crayon and pencil, that was unexpected, emotional.

I went into this volunteer poetry teaching thing thinking I was going to be giving of myself and my time, hoping I could infect some young people with a love of words, like a couple of teachers did for me long ago. But what really happened is that the kids ended up teaching me, inspiring me–with creative energy, with their wild, wide-open hearts and minds, with their generosity and affection and devotion. I am forever changed by them.

I’m so grateful to the principals and teachers who said Yes when I came along with this idea of mine to teach kids to write poetry. I’ve been immeasurably blessed by the community that we all created together, with paper and pencils and one abiding, wiggly, fluffy yellow dog.

If you want to rock your world, if you want to rediscover wonder, if you want to remember what it’s like to craft a universe out of nothing but pale marks on a blank page, if you want to open yourself to boundless imagination and claim the badge of Artist–find a school nearby and spend some time with kids who are hungry for adventure and learning and someone to “play” with them. All they want, what they need, is for someone to show up, to be willing, to hold their hand and holler Jump!

Take the lead for just a little while, and soon they will be pulling you into uncharted territory–they will guide you to places you have forgotten, places you perhaps have never had the urge or the courage to travel to before.

I promise you, it’s worth the ride.

I still have a lot of the children’s poems to transcribe and post, so please keep visiting the site. I’ll also be posting some photos from our last workshops together, and some of the art they created for their poetry chapbooks. Please leave comments for the kids if you like what you see, what you read. They devoted a lot of time and heart to create what you find here in these pages.

Thanks for coming by and supporting us!



About deniselanier

I am an educator & advocate, poet & performer, speaker & storyteller who believes in the power of narrative to transform & transport, create & connect. I was the shy, awkward girl who didn’t fit in, was often bullied, happiest with my nose in books, whose best friend was my dog. After being cast in a play in my teens I discovered a way to be comfortable in my own skin, bringing to life the words of a character. Costumed in make-believe I dared to be more of myself than I ever allowed off-stage; I claimed my voice. I spent most of my adult life teaching others to raise their own voices, through acting, creative writing, even slam poetry. When the diagnosis of MS intervened in my 30s I had to let go of acting, which is why most of my storytelling is now expressed through page and less “formal” interactions with stages. I devote much of my time to kids, teaching them to use words & imagination, developing authentic, resilient, remarkable voices. I endeavor to grow in my students the belief, the truth, that we are all artists & the change-makers in our own stories. My best friend still has fur & four legs. My mobility assistance dog is my constant companion, teaching assistant & muse to many. Luke is also chief partner in crime; I’m getting a reputation for stealing things. As inventor of a poetic form called klepto-collaborative, I pickpocket words & phrases from others, reshuffling & reshaping the puzzle-pieces into a colorful, storied mosaic of diverse voices. Taking something from every speaker at a conference in real-time, I craft a collective poem that highlights the messages of the day, repurposing ideas & refashioning stories, weaving them together in a manner that never loses the originality & spirit of the speakers’ themes. So while I may be a word thief, I figure being eco-conscious makes up for it. I’m available to facilitate wordy goodness in your community, school, workplace or play space. I like to think I have way of transforming annual meetings into something interactive, cooperative & memorable. Through my klepto-collaborative poems I aim to delight, to ignite conversation, and maybe even incite innovation. I earned an MFA from Florida International University, where I edited Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. I’m the founder of WordPlay, a poetry-in-the-schools project inspired by Dave Eggers. My poetry has appeared in Bloomsbury Review, Cake, Luna, Best American Poetry blog (a collaborative poem with the phenomenal Denise Duhamel), Wicked Good Life, and various anthologies. My non-fiction has appeared in the Miami Herald and my fiction has been nominated for Best New American Voices. www.deniselanier.wordpress.com & www.wonkybent.wordpress.com

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Interviews, The (not so secret) Secret, and Superpowers « Wonky Woman on a Bent Trike

  2. Pingback: Letters & Donations S. W. A. K. « WordPlay

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