Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Homework is Rarely Poetry

I just got back from a little gig in a Ventura high school. Just an hour or so up the coast from Pasadena. The high school has been decimated by flu; I met three different classes, one of them with about ten kids. Last students standing, so to speak. Or sitting in this case with their baseball hats on sideways.

You never know -- I saw these kids twice in two days, and on Day #1 I'd given them little assignments. Which led to an intense discussion in the ten o'clock class about writing-on-demand. A few claimed they just couldn't do it and had to wait for inspiration. I told them my butt-in-the-chair theory. They said, "That's you, dude." I asked them what they did about homework. They couldn't wait for inspiration, right? "That's homework, man. Not poetry."

They had me there. Homework is rarely poetry. And to prove to me that waiting paid off at least four of them brought me their journals and showed me what gifts Inspiration had given them. I looked at the many, many pages then suggested the Hot Spot exercise.

That agreed with some but, like green peppers, not everyone. They ascribed to the First Thought/Best Thought theory. I said that I revised constantly. They called me dude again.

They were fun to work with -- smart and opinionated and snarky. My kind of people.


P.S. Nice to see Anne, I believe, reading Kerry Madden. She's a pal of mine, used to live in L.A., just moved to Birmingham for a tenure track teaching job. Amazingly sweet-natured and generous. She'd be a great guest at Hamline!

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