Last week I taught at Bradford District High School, the same high school I went to as a teenager. Family, teachers and perfect strangers were quite intrigued and curious about what this experience was like for me. It seems most people can imagine, for better or for worse, what this would be like them.
It was a great week. I am grateful. I could make a long list of all the things that inspired me about this experience. The short list includes: the equity work being done at the school by a few committed teachers, the fact that Bradford now has a GSA, and meeting Karen Stewart and many brilliant students. Much love to Joanne Bridgeman-Sparks for guiding the library-ship and to Judy Faria for organizing this!
The Ontario Arts Council’s Artist in Education funding made this week of workshops possible – a week where students created their own spoken word pieces, after learning about the art form, and performed them too!
In a Writer’s Guild meeting (a club that meets at lunch to write and talk about writing) we discussed what it’s like to earn a living as an artist and my work with the League of Canadian Poets came up. Stewart’s first vision was of me in a cape…. and that is what you see in this fabulously hand-made thank you card pictured here!
I know many students and teachers who are starting back at school today. I wish you a good start back.
It’s always a big change from the summer time and so it’s not usually an easy adjustment, from both sides. Once the classroom routines become established and you are ready for your poetry unit, in English or Drama or otherwise, keep it in mind that it’s a great support to have an artist in your classroom.
I still have some financial support available for schools through the Ontario Arts Council’s Artists In Education program, so if you would like to bring me in for a week, please contact me. If a day of workshops suits your school better, we can request support from the League of Canadian Poets to make this happen. Let’s be in touch to make poetry come alive in your classroom!
I look forward to working with many of you in this 2014/2015 school year.
This month I’ve been writing a postcard poem a day, thanks to the arts organizing of Paul Nelson. There are a few hundred of us writing these poems and mailing them to 31 one people on our list. Stay tuned for the results.
Thanks Paul! http://paulenelson.com/august-poetry-postcard-fest/
Okay, so this is not yet a great, big, dreaming-out-loud national or international tour but I have had a chance to perform one of my favorite poems, tomboy, in quite a few locations over the last couple of weeks. They include:
- At Weston CI’s positive space training
- At Valley Park PS’s unpacking gender stereotypes workshops
- At the TDSB’s Gender-Based Violence Prevention Office
- At Pedestrian Sunday’s Poetry on the Streets stage, on that sunny Sunday afternoon with bubbles blowing by, as part of a feature set with Cathy Petch – thanks to TPS and poets.ca
- Over the announcements for Parkdale CI’s celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)
This variety and traction of these events make me wonder what it would be like to do a real tour…
…take your own online tour of this poem if you haven’t seen/heard it yet:
Sketchbook poem online for viewing
I wrote and illustrated, so to speak, a poem for the Sketchbook Project’s 2014 tour. It will tour across the USA and make a stop in Toronto in November. Stay tuned.
The poem is called Beyond What’s Drawn and explores using crayon and marker as a medium and a metaphor. I’ve been working with this medium for almost a year now. Producing the sketchbook put me to the task of exploring the meaning of crayons and colouring.
It was published online today! Check it out at: http://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/15236
I got to host a panel tonight featuring the likes of Lishai Peel, Ian Keteku and Dwayne Morgan.
As you can imagine it’s a constant hustle to be an artist. How could it be done full time? We explored this reality based on the lived experiences of new and long-time full-time artists, Lishai, Ian and Dwayne.
We explored questions like:
- Who are you? How would you sum up what you do?
- What was the poem that helped kick-start your career?
- What piece reflects the cutting edge of your work?
- What was the landscape of shows, venues, communities and key people that helped you get started?
- What have been the challenges, the worst case scenarios you’ve faced?
- When was the first moment you glimpsed the possibility of being a full-time artist? How did you decide to go for it?
- How much do you make – or if you’d rather – what is the extent and impact of your work?
- What’s your secret?
The rich responses from Lishai, Ian and Dwayne informed, challenged and inspired many of us in the room.
It was an honour and a pleasure. Thanks Toronto Poetry Project (torontopoetryslam.com) for organizing this informative gathering!
If you were given approximately 6,000 words from Engineers Without Borders chapters across Canada reporting on their successes in 2013, could you create a poem? I did.
I wrote this poem and performed it today. In a room of about 600 people, the standing ovation I received was stunning. I wish I’d taken a picture of that.
See the full piece here: