I had the privilege of giving a mini TED Talk this past weekend where I shared a bit about my experiences creating this poetry in the schools project, handed out some Moo MiniCards with yummy-delicious kid poems on them, and invited anyone in the TEDxTheWoodlands community interested in coming together to create a similar initiative to be in touch with me.
At the end of the conference day, I did something I haven’t done in a really long time. I performed a poem. And not just any poem, mind you, but a klepto-collaborative poem, a mash-up of the words & ideas of the speakers & host of the day. Something from everyone who crossed the stage at TEDxTheWoodlands was included. I call it a klepto-collaborative poem because, in essence, I’m “stealing” words & phrases from others. It’s collaborative because even though the speakers weren’t aware of it, they all contributed.
I think I’ve perhaps invented this term, but who knows? Mash-ups are certainly not a new idea, we hear them with music all the time and we’ve seen them using video clips, perhaps most commonly at awards shows. Have you ever read or heard a mash-up of poetry? If you have, let me know, I’d love to hear about it!
I’ll post the link to the text & video of our TEDxTheWoodlands klepto-collaborative poem as soon as it’s available for viewing. And here’re my amazing co-volunteers who collaborated in crafting and carrying out the inaugural TEDxTheWoodlands.
In the meantime, hit me up if you live in the Greater Houston & Galveston areas and want someone to come share wordy goodness with your school or youth group. I volunteer my time, but my service dog Luke charges a small fee: at least 3 dog treats per session for his obviously-hard work (pictured below).
This is Luke’s ninja pose.
I know, I know, he looks like he’s sound asleep. But he’s actually waiting to pounce upright into his famous applause-dance. A delightful tail-wagging celebration caused by fantabulous phrasing, psychedelic imagery, flights of poetic fancy & daring. Luke even has his own calling cards!
He’s very proud of them, and performs random taste-sampling to ensure their quality.
Speaking of which, here’s someone who inspires me with her passionate poetic way: Sarah Kay. It’s too late for me to be like her when I grow up, but I’d love to help grow the next generation of poetic voices as a teacher, mentor, and gardener of word-&-imagination lovers ~
I hope to grow an 826Houston or at least something 826like. If you don’t know what I mean by that, you need to check out 826Valencia & 826National. Dave Eggers’ Once Upon a School is what inspired me to create my poetry in the schools project back in Florida. I heard his TED Prize wish talk and it changed the trajectory of my post-graduate “career.” I had planned to do what many–if not most–writers do after securing their MFAs: teach. In fact I’d already secured my first job as an adjunct Professor of English at Broward Community College and was teaching Composition courses. But when I began WordPlay, teaching creative writing to kids, my plan of seeking a tenure-track teaching job dissolved.
Once I was standing in a classroom of 3rd graders crafting penciled word-journeys on pale blue-lined notebook paper it was obvious what I wanted to do. And after I attended the 2009 TED conference in Palm Springs–the tuition was a scholarship awarded to me for creating a project that best honored the spirit of Dave Eggers’ TED Prize wish–I knew that I would never again teach English Comp to college Freshman. I don’t have anything against college students or college English professors–what I’m saying is I realized that the creative part of writing, the kind of writing that grows from imagination & experience, writing whose purpose is story & connection rather than research, facts and information–that’s where my passion lies.
Or I should say, that’s where my passion LIVES.
Creative writing wakes children up; it fuels them; it flips a switch, transforming them from passive to active agents. They are hungry for story, our young people, and given time and opportunity, a well-stocked pantry of tools & ingredients, a little guidance–they are fabulous chef’s of story. All I want to do is hang out in the kitchen with them and talk & cook & eat & cook some more. Because every single experience of that shared creation is Thanksgiving to me.
When you read the things they write, the narratives they concoct & the realms they conjure, you’ll want to have more than your fill as well. Heck, you might even want to come with your pan (pen) and cook (write) with us someday!