The students of English 100 class fear writing. They fear words and expression on paper. They bring their papers to me; they sit and say, “I don’t want to even show you. You are going to be so bored. It is so bad.” For me, a lover of beauty in words, it is difficult to understand how they loath the art of tapping on a keyboard or swirling words with a pen on paper. They are ensnared by the daggling modifier, the pronoun, the slippery slope, and red herring fallacies, but I want to say, “look! Look at the beauty these words form.” They cannot hear beyond the page, not yet. So I guide them into the sentence, into the transitions, into clarity, and into form and reason. I guide and remember, hoping one of them will say, “I learned.” To reignite my passion, I read and write, falling into the spaces of words.
Recently, I read the ebook, Blueprints: Bridging Poetry Into Communities (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/foundation/blueprints). What stood out, almost immediately, in each of the chapters, and each of the poet’s writings in the book, was that poetry creates community and self-identity. As I read, the poets words not only confirmed identity, but also celebrated their own transformation through words—they praised words with words. Each story spoke of empowerment and identity in poetry. I wish I could infuse all with this power in word. This concept couldn’t come at a better time, right now, I seek words. I look for them between each board in the small kitchen’s floor, and each space in the little white house. I look for them in the yard near where the chicken is buried under the ginger roots. I look for them under the house in the dusty spot where the old cat sleeps. There are times, I believe, that we all need a flood of words to set us right; we seek them, needing a sudden flash that sparks everything up again. I need words. Let’s face it, this small thing we call “existence,” every great once and awhile, overwhelms even the toughest of personalities. Blueprints: Bridging Poetry Into Communities sends out a message—a message that power and art still grows, exists, and gives flight. Interestingly, but not uncommon in our world, the poets in Blueprints came from diverse circumstances: the streets, a gang, a misunderstood black poet in an all-white classroom, a non-profit in the act of stewardship, but they all had something in common—they found art. In a section titled “About River of Words,” Robert Hass says, “there are practical steps, of course, that children and adults can take to feel less powerless about the condition of the world, but in this way, especially with the young, I think art is a mighty power, and it is important that they learn it, and are encouraged to learn it, early” (107). Poet allows expression and brings beauty to fear and change. Art sometimes attacks and sometimes nudges at ideas and insecurities that live in the realm of the “powerless,” and it places words on paper or into the ear of a listener, transforming powerless to powerful. I have been reminded of the power of words. I will guide those haters of words and writings, those English 100 students. I will guide them with words even if they don’t see beauty in them, yet.