Amanda and I agreed that, if the students of 10C have to write a poem, we should both do the same. Writing poems is not an easy thing, and to write from oneself, as the students are required to do in their attempt to bring out their home/cultural background, can be very challenging because it draws from what is deeply personal. On the other hand, when the writer unplugs the source of personal experience, there is a rich spring from which to draw experiences which should make writing flow.
Student writing is often lacking in a connection to what is experienced or lived. Writing might take the form of books read, and may emulate styles and format a student has decided is ‘good writing’. In her classes this term, Amanda has shared a variety of poems whose subject matter is some kind of personal cultural expression, in particular, the tension between cultures. The intention is to strike a chord in students with what they have experienced in their home culture, and to allow them to articulate their experiences, and to reflect on their identity.
My poem was written without editing, as a quick blog post in response to a MOOC activity. I felt comfortable sharing with my readers in this instance because we had shared a lot of writing and felt safe in a trusted online community. I was happy to share this poem with students – not as a polished piece, but as an example of one of the ways something personal could be written out. It was a surprise to me when, just before reading, I felt a little apprehensive, and even more of a surprise when I felt an emotional response to hearing myself read my poem aloud. I guess that there is always the worry about how your writing will be received, whether it will be understood (or liked). And if the words come from a deep place, it is not surprising that they will draw out those emotions which made them worth writing about in the first place.
- Tania Sheko