Slice of Life Challenge
Please join the challenge over at Two Writing Teachers!
Joining the Teacher Poets Community has inspired me during a time when inspiration is hard to find. Chris Lehman invited teachers to write and share their poetry under his leadership. So many of us said, YES...and here we are a full fledged community writing and sharing poetry on Saturday mornings.
Using Google Communities and Google Hangouts and Twitter to connect us is new for me. I love the technology! In real time we are sharing and writing and workshopping poetry together. There are only a handful of us on screen, but so many more watching and participating using twitter. The video is archived on Youtube and people can return to the video and the community to participate at a later date.
It's there for our reference at a later time and we can share it with others. This makes me wonder how it can be used for professional development or with students. There are so many possibilities...
This past Saturday morning, it was my turn to share my writing. Nervous doesn't begin to explain how I was feeling while reading my poem! My hands were shaking and I felt so much emotion, I could barely contain it...what held me together was the trust I have in the group assembled. The people there wanted to help and guide and inspire...and they did.
My poem is a raw, emotional description of what it's like to be single and childless...needless to say, personal and painful topics to address. I told Chris before we went live that I tried to write about less personal topics, but it never happens for me when I write poetry. Poetry goes to the soul of me...so I let it.
Here's the poem...
At ten years old, I begged
Please! Mom PLEASE! I want a pair of Dr. Scholl’s…
just like everyone else! Everyone has them!
I finally got my red Dr. Scholls and they promptly
blistered my feet and caused me to trip & fall
My brown bagged lunch
sits in front of me in the teacher’s room,
reaching in I grab a vitamin water and my peanut butter sandwich.
As I peel back the silvery foil I hear, Did your husband make your lunch?
The foil rips and I smooth out the wrinkles,
Avoiding eye contact, I say
That would be remarkable...but I don’t have one.
The self deprecating laugh doesn’t hide the pain,
instead it shines a spotlight on it
I’m not like everyone else...
Another table, another day,
another question So do you have kids?
My breath catches as I imagine saying Yes.
How I long to say yes…
and to tell stories of my kids and their antics,
to complain about no sleep and
shake my head while admitting that it’s all worth it…
Instead, I say No.
But it doesn’t tell the whole story…
The story of how I spent a year preparing to adopt a child
The story of how I came within weeks of adopting a precious little boy
or the pain of losing that child and coming away with nothing
ending where I began
Everyone has stories
And I used to want my stories
to sound like just everyone else
and to feel like just everyone else
to be like just everyone else
I appreciate my story
Once I read it, Chris explained how the feedback would work. It's a three step process...
Here's some of the feedback:
I loved how "the foil rips" seemed to capture the pain in your heart, @Mhaseltine. Such a powerful moment. #teacherpoets
— JenniferM (@readwritetech) April 19, 2014
@Mhaseltine wondering about the now. How does the pain move away #teacherpoets
— Julieanne Harmatz (@jarhartz) April 19, 2014
@iChrisLehman I agree! Repetition of "everyone else" and "story" could lead to a powerful place. @Mhaseltine #teacherpoets
— Catherine Flynn (@flynn_catherine) April 19, 2014
@Mhaseltine @Betsy_writes Thank you. I hope to read your revised poems. #teacherpoets
— Terje Äkke (@terjeakke) April 19, 2014
Sharing that poem with the world means exposing a tender part of myself and that's scary, but hearing how it touched people makes the fear disappear! Poetry connects us. Poetry inspires us. I will treasure the moments of this workshop forever. There are experiences that change our teaching and help us become better teachers, and then there are experiences that change us...as people...I believe that this is changing me. It's making me more brave. It's making me a better listener. It's encouraging me to write poetry. It's giving me the opportunity to connect with inspiring and talented teachers from around the world.
Thank you, Chris...
for the inspiration,
for the guidance,
and for the poetry!