What a day today! Did three 90-minute poetry/song presentations/workshops (sponsored by the QWF) with about a hundred students in total at College Montmorency in Laval, Que., plus three hours teaching my English Montreal School Board Adult ESL class in the evening. I'm still revved up... but quite teached/performed out!
At the workshops, I followed much the same formula as I created last spring for the Academy, with a few additions of racier poems that would appeal to a more mature audience. Indeed, yesterday I spent several hours mulling over what I'd add from my own work and others. These were advanced English Culture/Literature classes, but virtually all were Second Language students, pretty well all of Francophone background -- so I couldn't get much more sophisticated vocabulary-wise than with an enriched class of Anglophone 12-year-olds. As it was, this was a quieter, more reticent group -- particularly the morning class, although that could be due to the time of day (I see another reason why music gigs don't take place in the morning...). Unlike 12-year-olds, who joyfully performed their creations for their peers, these preferred to approach me afterwards to consult one-to-one. (Those who did -- maybe a dozen in all.) Partly too, these workshops were formed by people from two different classes, so class camaraderie was considerably cut down, and the shyness quotient proportionally increased. Poetry is often met with silence; music, universally, with applause. Sometimes I'm so glad I have music to perform. Anyway, things went well, and both the teacher and I were impressed by how quickly and easily nearly all the students set to the writing task. I've been invited back.
About 2 hours (3? 4?) I had last night of fitful sleep -- so nerved up I was by the prospect of teaching all those new groups at a strange school -- so I'm only glad I didn't crash my car.
A working "definition" of poetry I came up with last night for the initial brainstorm on "What is poetry?"
Poetry is concentrated, rhythmic language that strikes us with a revelation of what it is to be alive.