Saturday, February 23, 2008

Watched 8 Mile last night with Ruth and C. Hey, it's only taken me fifteen years to get on the rap bandwagon. I gained fresh insight and respect for the art form of rap. A good thing, since I volunteered to teach some poetry classes at Juvenile Hall where C works...and I'm nervous. Will I be able to find the right material to reach these kids? How can I go with their culture and grow their literacy and comfort with the written word at the same time.

I think that poetry could be a fantastic medium for them to practice--it's shorter and in many ways easier than prose. I think I need to relax my anti-rhyme stance, but at the same time I want to teach them something about imagery, and using language for different purposes.

In the film, the aspiring rappers did "battle" with each other, each one striving to cap the other in witty rhjyming insults and narrative. In that way, their poems resembled more narrative ballads than the kind of lyrical image-driven work I write. But when I was first discovering poetry as a kid, I loved those ballads that told a story like "The Highwayman" like Alfred Noyes, which totally fired my imagination. I could bring in Langston Hughes. I could bring in some of the prison poetry I got from Judith T., my friend who taught poetry at San Quentin for years.

This will be exciting and nerve-wracking. I'm psyched. And I'bve also been assiduously avoiding the rewrite of the Marie Antoinette play for weeks now.

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