We’ve started a new round of poetry classes at ORIS this time with teens from Uganda, Somali-Bantu from Kenya and the Middle East. From Christian and Islamic faiths. One new item we have that we didn’t have last time is a microphone and an amp.
These kids are full of light, laughter and words and they couldn’t wait for their turn at the mic – although some were nervous once they got there. Standing at the mic with everyone looking at you, and hearing your voice amplified, you can suddenly feel very vulnerable. I told them that my first time at the mic was terrifying, but explained how important it was that I did it.
Tribe Poetry Project is a three part experience. The first part is writing, the second is reading and the third is listening. I teach that respectful listening as an audience member is just as important as reading at the mic. Vulnerability, humility, acceptance and respect are necessary for tapping into inspiration, churning out a good poem, growing as a writer and working well with a group.
These kids get it and they do it with grace and laughter which are also necessary ingredients of the process. I can’t relate to the extraordinary experiences that brought them to this country but by listening and being heard we can all relate to each other. It’s so humbling and such an honor to work with them.