Back in April in several blog posts on the Northwestern University's annual spring Writing Festival, I mentioned my participation in a related program, sponsored by NU's undergraduate Creative Writing Program and the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium, that involved working with the excellent young undergraduate creative writing poetry students, who were in turn serving as mentors and teachers for talented, enthusiastic high school poets at Evanston Township High School, the main public school in the suburban city, just north of Chicago, where Northwestern's main campus sits.
As part of that program, a half dozen NU faculty members, I included, all affiliated with the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium or the undergraduate Creative Writing program, attended several sessions at the high school, and during those, some of us actually wrote drafts of poems with the students. Yesterday I was reading through my current Moleskin notebook, which I began late last year, and came across my drafts of two poems I wrote based on prompts that my faculty colleagues gave to the high school students. I wrote them while sitting with the undergraduates and high schools, even reading the first aloud to them when they pressed me to hear it, and thought I'd post them here, instead of letting the blog remain in radio silence.
I did not write down and cannot recall the prompts, although I believe that in relation to my first piece, one of the high school students wrote and then later revised a poem about finding money on the street. Perhaps that was the source of the "million dollars." With the second I believe a colleague had the students reading poems by Louise Bogan and Melvin Dixon, and it may have been their prosody and rhyme schemes I was following. At any rate these were a nice reminder of last spring, and are but drafts resulting from prompts, so take them as you will.
People say the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
People say that the cows will eventually come home.
People say that the child will do better than her parents.
People say that the child who has her own is blessed.
People say there are more stars in the heavens than moons.
People say if you hear songs in your dreams you'll win a million dollars.
People say if you hear don't hear songs in your dreams you'll win a million dollars.
People say that a lover's kiss is worth more than a million dollars.
People say you can buy a kiss from anyone you dream of for a million dollars.
People say it's better to give than receive, whether it's one kiss, one dollar or a million.
People give a million reasons why they call you or do not call you.
People say they're telling you the truth when they're giving you these reasons.
People say if you listen to the earth you might hear things you need to hear.
People say if you listen to the earth you might hear things you don't want to hear.
People say that if you play your cards right they could still go very wrong.
People say that if you play your cards wrong things could still turn out alright.
People say there's a right way and a wrong way to hear the things people say.
People say there's a right way and a wrong way to understand the things people say.People say it's often better not to pay close attention to what people say.
People say it's always a good idea to pay close attention to what people say.People say if you pay close or even a little attention you can learn a great deal about not just what's being said about but about who is saying it.
People say so many things it's almost impossible to remember them.
People say nevertheless it's a good idea to remember the basics, like the sun rising in the east, et cetera.
People sometimes say these things in such a whisper though, you can't can be sure what people say.
Gold sun green lawns
black yards white dawn
steel tracks fast trains
brick homes stone manorssilver lake bronze sand
wide streets polite manners
snow caps mittened hands
tall poles long wires
school songs home choirs
Copyright © John Keene, 2012.