Slice of Life/#blog4nwp: A Found Poem

Slice of Life 2011During free moments yesterday, I was reading many of the blog posts from National Writing Project teachers and supporters yesterday as we launched into a #Blog4NWP weekend to let our voices be heard about the importance of the NWP in our teaching and writing lives (read mine here).

I was often struck by some powerful phrases from many of my NWP colleagues and decided that it might be interesting to try a found poem from various blog posts. So, with sincere apologies to many of the bloggers whose words I have “borrowed” here (and possibly adapted slightly), I present my found poem and podcast. The links in the poem should bring you to the original post.

Dancing on the Surface of Water: A Found Poem
(listen to the poem)

When 130,000 teachers
reach 1.4 million students,
how can you argue that these professionals are not finding powerful ways
to motivate,
to educate,
to push learning in new directions ….

Great teaching is not as simple as breathing;
it doesn’t come out of a sparkling spring bubbling up from nowhere
as if it were some magic elixir handed down in secret handshakes
in shadowed hallways.
Great teaching comes from mentors,
from connections,
from learning together what works
and what may not work,
and reflecting on how we might adapt next time
to make more impact.

The small pebble of federal support creates a ripple effect
extending out,
expanding across classrooms
and schools
and cities and towns everywhere,
allowing us some precious moments to dance upon the surface of water.

We reach out our hands to our young writers — the struggling and the confident —
so that they, too, may make sense of their world on the page.
When they discover their power as a writer, their lives may be altered forever.
We teach for moments like these
and celebrate their arrival with the intangibles of
and wonderment,
and community.

The National Writing Project has been a refuge,
an intellectual and professional and collegial home
that has done more for us as teachers of teachers than even we might have first imagined
when we gathered together with strangers one summer
only to emerge as colleagues
– and as teachers of writing, it has meant more than we would have dreamed possible.
Each summer, teachers from across each state meet for weeks
to eat, sleep, dream and inhale writing.
They come together to do the essential, albeit difficult, work in their classrooms
of moving pens to paper, of words to the screen,
of thoughts into action,
of transforming young thinkers into powerful writers.
It is only because we are teachers
that we can truly begin to conceive of ourselves as writers.
We are dedicated to the development of networks.
And writing.
And, of course, to thinking

We’re counting on you, our government leaders,
to be an authentic audience for us
and our students.
We ask that you show support for the young great American authors working across
information age media that you —
with your support and with your ears open to the possibilities
of teachers learning together —
will help us as teachers to
and celebrate
even in these times of fiscal constraints.
We’re counting on you.

Peace (in the poem),

  1. Powerful poem. Many of the projects like NWP, are projects with a proven track record. Projects that work. I thought the powers that be were looking to improve education. Why destroy the things that are making a difference. Thank you for the poem – it says it well!

  2. Well done! I am curious about your process here. The lines you “borrowed” seem so well entwined that I wonder how you managed to make them sound like your own thoughts.

    • Well …
      I had to adapt some lines here and there, but I was looking for phrases and ideas as I read posts that stuck out at me.
      Weaving them together took some time, and I suppose, I would have liked to do more refining. Maybe I still will ….

  3. Passionate poem, Kevin. Hope these legislators begin to notice the passion and make the decisions they need to for our children.

  4. Thank you, Kevin, for your strong message, delivered in classic, collegial NWP fashion. The poem makes so much sense and I feel it so deeply, and, yet, the situation makes no sense to me and leaves me numb. Sometimes I remind myself that things could be worse…McCain could have won…but lately I don’t see the difference very clearly.

    • Hi Aram
      It’s all a bit confusing but Bud Hunt has been reminding us (me) on twitter that the funding crisis is not the end of the world. It’s a chance to re-conceptualize the NWP, perhaps.

  5. Kevin – creative weaving and powerful wordsmithing! I also like the second stanza a lot. And I love the first sentence of the last sentence. I have an image of government representatives reading students’ blogs and poems and essays, cocking their heads as they mull the thoughts and images. Would that they would allow themselves to learn from the students we teach. Would that they would listen carefully to the people they represent.

  6. Kevin,
    I, too, am honored to have my thoughts woven into your found poem. The instant connectivity and friendship of NWP TC’s is amazing, isn’t it?

  7. Excellent poem Kevin. It truly captures the spirit of the National Wriitng Project. I plan on sharing it with my legislators when I meet with them on Thursday.

  8. Dear Kevin,
    I had no idea you had read my blogpost and used my words so beautifully in your poem until I stumbled upon this in a random Google search. Thanks for reading my work and for allowing me along for a vicarious poetry ride in your blog.

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