Talking to a rugful of first-graders is a scary business. Keeping their interest, watching for signs of restlessness and disinterest, and then immediately switching course to lure back their attention…I think we chatted 25 minutes all told, but I was exhausted!
The teachers were endlessly patient and encouraging — the kids’ poems are hung all around the school, which I didn’t notice on my way in, and the kids kept getting side-tracked from our question & answer period in order to give me instructions on where I could find their particular poems, though I assured them that I would absolutely explore every floor of the school and read every poem. One clever girl, after about the fifth time the teachers had gently assured them that their poems would be read, please no more, it’s time for questions only, raised her hand, and when called upon said, “I have two questions: first, you can find MY poem on the door down the hall…” Nice try.
What creative children, though, and how wonderful to be in a writing workshop when you’re seven. That day’s work involved brainstorming “the just-right title” for the poems they’d been working on. One girl’s: “Let Me Blow Away”. Who knows how many of theses kids will continue to write into their adulthood, but I think that such creative nurturing can’t help but inform the people they’ll become — future poetry book buyers at the very least!
Interesting how much more nervous I was reading to that classroom than to the audience of adults at the Green Street Café the evening prior.
Not that I wasn’t nervous at all! There was a nice turnout, and the audience included a number of poets who had never heard me read before, which always gives the internal eternally insecure “please like me” beastie a kickstart.
But I’ve discovered that I deeply enjoy the act of reading my poems for an audience, the quiet listening we all do as I mine each line for its sounds and cadences. And it’s so much more satisfying to participate in a featured reading, where you can read for 20 minutes or more, and really find your rhythm and ride it, than the open-mic quickie. I’m glad I have more events on the horizon; only wish I had the time, and childcare funds, to do more!