Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Love My Creative Writing Class

And not just because every time we meet we end up discussing something really perverted, something that makes my cheeks burn red, something that makes the girls giggle, something that makes the guys wiggle their eyebrows at each other.

I love my creative writing class because this feels like the first creative writing class I've ever had where the students are honest to God interested in making something beautiful. They are not there because they think creative writing is going to be an easy grade. They are not there because they had a hole to fill in their schedule. They are not there because they are sleeping with someone else in class. They are just there to do their best, to learn a little something, and to give their classmates some encouragement along the way.

I also love my creative writing class for some of things they create. The first time we did a full workshop, I began class with a prompt that would loosen them up, get them talking, get them collaborating. I wanted everyone to go into workshop feeling pretty damn good about themselves. And so we wrote fantastic collaborative poems--and some of them turned out so great.

The rules were simple: write a line at the top of your paper. Pass it to the next person, and they will write a line that stems from the previous line. Then, after their line has been written, they fold the paper over so that the only line visible is their own. It goes on that way for a full circle until the poem gets back to the original author. At that point, the author writes the final line.

Here's the poem that sprang from the line I started with:

Falling in love is not
like eating sour candy;
it's like piercing my wanton taste buds,
like tiny needles piercing flesh.
It stings like sleet on the face,
a pain so raw and honest,
but who cares about them
and their silly games?
Why do they play them?
Is it the money or the fame?
Or was it just the texture,
the gritty feeling of mud in the mouth
which brought him quickly to his senses.
He thrust his right hand out and
that's when I saw the sun.

Sure, there might be problems with that, but I've got to hand it to them: a good portion of that poem somehow seemed to make sense, even if the students only saw the line before the one they crafted. I love the line about the mud. I love the poem. I love them.

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