Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm Shouting Out to @KwameAlexander, As In, Running a Workshop for 8th Graders Who Read THE CROSSOVER

Today, I will be working with several 8th graders from southern Connecticut who have read Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover and who are coming for a college tour at Fairfield University (What? You haven’t read The CrossoverWhat are you doing on my blog? You’re better off getting a copy of his book right away. Reading it, rather than the foolishness I imprint here).

With this noted, as part of the events for today I opted to allude to Alexander's great text through writing my own "As In" poem to as away to introduce myself to the students who have read his book. I want to be just like Josh, as in hip with language, full of pep, and on top of his game. I have to admit, however, that I got this great idea from Kaitlyn Kelly, Gina Forberg, and Attallah Sheppard who assisted their young writers this summer as they read The Crossover during the Young Adult Literacy Labs.

So, here is my introductory poem for the workshop (breaking out of my typical style and rhythm into a style that I admire from The Rooster). Cockledoodledoo.

As In, I am Just Bryan

I am Bryan,
a professor at Fairfield U...
    As in, I read a lot of books,
    a few thousand books,
     & keep my nose behind computers
         to learn more about my world….

I am Bryan, a reader...
    As in I am a library nerd
    who is totally proud of losing himself in 
         words (those brain turds) & the worlds
         that flutter before me like birds
          across the universe and sky, 
          while I rehearse my ways of knowing,
          always willing to fly.

I am Bryan, a son of a Butch,
   upstate New Yawker
   and middle child of three.
      As in, I have two sisters,
       and got blamed
   for leaving the toilet seat up,
       and for torturing Barbie Dolls.
      As in, I got grounded and
   my sisters stuck their tongues
    out at me, simply because I
     stand up when I pee.

I am Bryan, a madman
   who empties the ocean
with a fork,
As in, face it, I know that I’m a dork
      and like Sisyphus, I must
       push that boulder up a hill.

I am Bryan, a teacher,
   who has taught for twenty years…
     As in these gray hairs
      contain history, culture, and
      the stories of a 1000 kids.
    As in, I don’t mind chalk,
       or giving homework,
       or being a jerk in order
       to help others succeed….
       supporting an intellectual journey
       is all I’ll ever need.

I am Bryan, a doer, who doesn’t mind doing,
   as long as something is getting done…
   As in I support relocated youth,
   refugees, and believe in their American future…
As in, I run 5K in New Haven every February
   to raise awareness of global realities…
   As in, no matter how stressed out I am,
   I know that others struggle more…
   As in, for every minute I spend in self-pity,
   I lose 60-seconds of making this world
      a better place.

I am Bryan,
 a crazy man,
 a looney-tune,
 and a big baboon who laughs
   his way through life….
    As in, I don’t mind dressing up as
    Dr. Clueless, even with autographed
    Missy Elliot Adidas sneakers around my neck…
    As in, I have more toys than ToysRUs,
    and never pass a gum-ball machine,
    without putting in a quarter (or two)

I am Bryan, a poet,
   who plays with language when
   finger tapping a piano keyboard
in search of better perspectives
   than the limitations set forth by my eyes…
   As in, the thesaurus is my friend…
   and I keep word journals and
   love to listen to the ways people speak.
   As in, I stink at basketball, but
   do mean crossovers with ideas.
   As in, you are a poem,
   and it is my hope to read you.

I am Bryan, an advocate for 
   writing our lives…
      As in, I will go to my grave
      fighting for better teachers
      and opportunities for young
       people like you to achieve…
         As in, I don’t matter nearly
           as much as
        YOU DO…
       and nothing makes me happier
      than seeing YOU and YOUR teachers
      shouting out what you need to say
       to anyone and everyone
       willing to listen.
      As in, it’s your time to scream
        to the galaxies above.

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