Student Poetry

My sixth graders have just completed a unit around poetry (ending with songwriting) and they had an option to submit a poem to an anthology that I pull together and distribute in our school (and online for parents). The poems were a combination of deep and thoughtful and fun and fanciful.

And here are some audio files of Poems for Two Voices from a few weeks ago:

Listen to the Student Voices:

Peace (in poetry),

Kevin

 

Massachusetts Writing Project Conference

(This is news that I wrote at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site and figured it should be shared here, too.)

The first-ever Massachusetts Writing Project Conference took place this past weekend in Worcester and featured three rounds of interesting and exciting workshops from Teacher-Consultants from all four MWP sites (Western Mass, Central Mass, Boston and Buzzards Bay).

Workshops included:

  • ESL instruction
  • Technology integration
  • Writing across the curriculum
  • Family writing nights

There were more than 100 people attending the all-day event and keynote speaker was the wonderful Sonia Nieto, who divided her talk up into the difficulties facing teachers today and some enriching stories of teachers who are making a difference in the classrooms and being reflective of their practice.


(Sonia Nieto with Susan Biggs, director of the Mass Writing Project state network, and Gail Gilman, of the Central Mass Writing Project)

Listen in to parts of Sonia’s inspirational speech as she details the work of some of the teachers that she has worked with on two book projects:

Cute Bday Card

I had a birthday this week and my middle son (age 7) drew this for me. That is one gigantic saxophone! I love that he sees music in me.

Peace (with portraits),
Kevin

OnPoEvMo: Adrift on a Raft, May 2007

This poem for my One Poem Every Month for a Year project was inspired by a recent conversation I had with a friend about copyright protection and the artistic aesthetics of releasing your work to the world.

 

Adrift on a Raft
(May 2007)
Listen to the Poem

Art should be free,”
I insisted but she didn’t believe me —
she couldn’t believe me — she wouldn’t believe me —
and she insisted on arguing her case for copyright laws
and profit margins
and the theft of ideas through digital handshakes,
advertising along sidebars of poetry and images and music —
after which she drifted into some story about the writer suffering for his art
while his words floated free on someone’s high-tech liquid screen
with no compensation,
no expectation of payback for all that thinking and planning and producing.

Her eyes teemed with fury as she talked and I, well, I just blinked,
and quietly hid my hard drive from her gaze so she would not think me
the pirate that I am, the collector of words.
The point I wanted to prove to her was:
if the art is powerful,
if the art is meaningful,
if the art is transformative,
then let it go by releasing it to the wind,
and pray that it will move someone to tears
or laughter
without us first grabbing a dollar from their wallet or a coin from their pocket.
We suffer enough with pop culture stereotypes not to add
“shakedown artist” to the list and what is money anyway
in a place where ideas are currency?
She laughed at me then, scoffed at such notions, and ended our conversation
with a simple, “You are so naive,” and then left me with my idealism under attack.

So here I am, now, turning her into a poem
and then pushing her out the door of my mind on a raft of words
into your ear, dear reader, dear listener,
hoping only that she finds anchor in some friendly port
on the other side of the world.

Peace ( in some distant port),
Kevin

Audiocast Workshop: Week in Sentence

This is a podcast from the workshop that I am giving at the Massachusetts State Writing Project conference. In this room, there are teachers (mostly from the middle school level, it turns out) who are interested in learning more about how audio and the Web 2.0 can expand the reach of audience and technology for their students.

pod1Here is a podcast that we just completed. I asked them to write a sentence that is a synthesis of their past week, for good or for bad, and then volunteers read their sentence into my Blue Snowball microphone, which was hooked into Audacity software. I have just walked them through the upload of the audio file into this blog.

pod2Week in Review

Peace (in the pod),

Kevin

How’d I do Three Voices Poem?

A number of blogging friends have asked about the process I went through to create and produce my podcasted The Creator: A Poem for Three Voices and One Person and so I wrote this in an email to Bonnie and figured I might as well share it through the blog.

I heard the voices in my head, quite literally. I was working with my
students on Poems for Two Voices (see this link) and figured they were having fun and so should I. Two years ago, I wrote a very cool Poem for Two Voices about Math and Writing, and then the math teacher and I read it aloud for the entire school one morning. But can I find the poem? No. Can he? No. (I am very frustrated).
So I decided to write a new one about a few of the views that I have of myself as a writer (short story writer/music composer/poet), and then thought, I might as well be all the voices, too, since I am all of the writers in the poem. I used Audacity (free open source mixing software) for the sound layering and it seemed easier in my head than it was in reality.
First, I had to read the first voice part and leave enough time and gaps for the other voices. What I was doing was reading and listening to the ghost voices in my head as I read. The second voice had its own difficulties. I had to make sure the words fit the gaps that I left AND that when words were to be in unison, that I phrased my words as close to the first “me” as possible. Turns out that first “me” wasn’t so thoughtful about how words were articulated and I found myself cursing myself at my imprecision. Darn it!
The third voice was just as tricky, except now I had two other “me”s to be impatient with, and neither one of those other “me”s seemed to know what they were doing. It was quite a quiet argument brewing in my head. My original intent had been to mess with the voices with some effects to differentiate the “sounds” of me, but I didn’t have the time nor inclination at that point. So I am relatively happy with the final result but not completely happy.
And maybe I should have added playwright and made it a perfect square of four voices. 🙂

If YOU have a poem for multiple voices that YOU want to share, I would love to learn from you, too. Or maybe you should give it a try. I can also imagine (in the back of my head) how people could do multiple voice poems from across the Net, by sending Audacity files to one another … hmmmm.

Peace (with a process),
Kevin

Casting Your Voice to the World: Podcasting 101

I am presenting a workshop this weekend on Podcasting and Audiocasting to teachers in our newly-reinvigorated Massachusetts Writing Project network. The conference is called Because Writing Matters and features Sonia Nieto (who writes and speaks so eloquently about social justice in our educational system) as our guest speaker and a whole host of workshops.

Here is the slideshow that will go along with my workshop. What you can’t hear are small bits and pieces of student voices that runs on each slide, and I intend to use my friend The Reflective Teacher‘s idea of boiling your week down to a single sentence as our writing prompt that will lead to a podcast in the workshop (posted here, of course).

[slideshare id=43815&doc=casting-your-voice-out-to-the-world-2183&w=425]

Here is the direct link: Casting Your Voice Out to the World.

Peace (with podcasts),
Kevin

OnPoEvMo: The Creator — a Poem for Three Voices, April 2007

This is an experiment for me — creating a poem for multiple voices and yet, it is only me speaking. Very tricky. I did it by layering my voice in Audacity and I am not sure I quite pulled off how I envisioned it. Once again, this is part of my OnPoEvMo Project.

The Creator: A poem for three voices and one person
(April 2007)

Listen to the poem

I am a I am a I am a
Writer    
  Composer  
    Poet
I crawl within I crawl within I crawl within
  the notes  
    the sounds
the words    
And look for the possibilities    
of creative expression of creative expression of creative expression
  I wonder at the  
I wonder at the colors I hear  
words I find   I wonder at the
    rhythms of the world and sink into my thoughts
dialogue    
  melody and memory and music  
  I bring my thoughts to life on the bars and staff and measures and move your feet to dance  
And make you think of all the chances    
that come with the roll of the dice    
and invention of something new —    
the character   the seam between the words — the space
    where silence exists
    The composition is
rich with nuance rich with nuance rich with nuance
    so that every single word
has meaning has meaning has meaning
I indent    
    I avoid punctuation
  I establish my theme and play with your  
  expectations, and remind you of why you  
are here, inside these words are here, inside these notes are here, inside these sounds
    Start inside me and move outwards
Start inside me and move inward    
  Start inside me and move upward  
Explore yourself through the eyes of others    
  Drift into the air, molecules excited,  
  music is made here as invisibility  
I am I am I am
    a poet
  a composer  
a writer    
Come, follow me on this adventure Come, follow me on this adventure Come, follow me on this adventure
  of notes  
    of sounds
of words    
Magic! Magical! Magnificent!
I am found inside the I am found inside the I am found inside the
mind    
  soul  
    spirit
We are one! The creator! We are one! The creator! We are one! The creator!

Peace (in many voices),
Kevin

A Trip to the Moon

A few days ago, I posted a recommendation to buy and read The Invention of Hugo Cabret with any young people you know (or heck, just yourself). Then, through some blogging threads (thanks Bud! via A Not So Different Place), I found the actual 1902 movie referenced in the book called A Trip to the Moon by Georges Melies.

Gosh, the internet is a fantastic resource. Now I can show my sixth graders (and my children) the movie after reading the book (actually, I just ordered the Audio CD because it comes with a DVD documentary showing the author writing the book — cool!)

Here it is:

[googlevideo]-2872403246769762863&q=a+trip+to+the+moon&hl=en[/googlevideo]

Peace (with old movies),
Kevin

Understanding Comics

I just completed a very intriguing book called Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud. In this fascinating graphic novel, McCloud (who, it turns out, lives near me or at least used to, according to the mailing address at the back of the book) ruminates on the way that we should view the development of comics as an important chapter in the development of art, and how little attention is given to it.

McCloud really engages the reader on many levels through his use of comics to tell his story. One area of interest for me, anyway, was his understanding that media would become more interactive (this book was first published in the early 1990s) and he wondered whether comics would integrate this turn of events (I don’t think it has yet).

This is what he writes (in comic form but I am using it as prose here):

For now, these questions (of whether stories need to be linear) are the territory of games and strange little experiments. But viewer participation is on the verge of becoming an enormous issue in other media. How comics addresses this issue — or fails to — could play a crucial part in defining the role of comics in the New Century. Time will tell.” — from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

That remark holds true for so many areas of publishing and writing and reading these days that I thought it was worth sharing.

Peace (in frames),
Kevin