Spring break was relaxing, yes, but I have been swept up in a wave of poetry and have done more poetry stuff in the past three weeks then I have ever have in my life. It’s been intense but I have loved every meeting I’ve gone to so far (six, as it stands).
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. A decent amount of time ago, before Spring Break, fellow TALONS students Emma F and Jamie approached me and asked me if I was interesting in joining their Hullabaloo team, which is a competitive event dedicated to spoken poetry. It sounded great so I agreed. Things picked up about a week and a half after that, when I performed a poem in front of a a couple dozen people in the TALONS room. It was not as good as it could have been and I was admittedly a little under-prepared for it. However, it was my first step into the poetry world and our first steps aren’t often pretty.
Soon after my blunder onto the poetry scene I was attending meetings with Emma, Jamie, and their mentor Jacob Gebrewold. Jacob is a phenomenal poet and an equally excellent teacher of poetry and more. He has been indispensable asset to me and the rest of the team, and because of him I’ve completed one solo piece and am on my way to a second.
With Bayleigh, my former mentor, missing in action, I am shifting my primary mentorship to Jacob. His expertise has been invaluable and he is an excellent mentor.
In addition to solo pieces, every Hullabaloo team must write three team pieces between them. Jamie and I have been working on one about the dangers of team literature and we are confident in it’s hilarity. The piece itself grows nearer to completion. Mwahaha.
1. On our last meeting, Jacob had Emma, Jamie and I analyze rap lyrics for poetic devices, and then perform them in Starbucks. As a group of suburban white kids, we were a little embarrassed but eventually got over it. I can say with confidence that you won’t get bored while belting a few bars of Childish Gambino while the barista gives you a dirty look. Jacob uses many tactics like this to keep things fresh and interesting, which makes it easier to work through a four hour poetry meeting like we did last Sunday morning. It is through these activities that Jacob shows us that poetry is in more places then one might think, in songs, rap, and many other places.
2. As I said before, new learning often comes from Jacob’s massive wealth of experience and expertise, material which is well-supplemented by jokes and fun little games which keeps things fresh. He is excellent at only enforcing a topic until it is understood, and then moving on. Things are always fun and spontaneous, so we’re never bored and can easily absorb new information.
3. Jacob seems to understand that as gifted learners we are proficient in understanding something quickly and our general dislike for excessive repetition. As a former IB learner, Jacob uses methods to review topics without feeling like a chore or studying, and keeping everything time effective.
4. As a group our discussions are about 70% poetry or competition related, 15% is discussion of life or other goals, 10% is general small talk or joking around, and the other 5% is a contagious, thoughtful silence. Often, our meetings will open with a casual update on the events of the last week, telling of any funny anecdotes. At which point we will get down to poetry work, which as I stated before is always something new. It is after reading of poems or watching of poems that the thoughtful silence will occur. As Jacob or members of the team articulates feedback and responses, we usually rock back in forth in our Starbucks chairs and snap our fingers. The discussion of life and goals is often interspersed throughout the meeting, as we go off on tangents.
5. I think that one thing that is going on with our team and Jacob is our casual demeanor with each other. I think that once you move away from being so stiff and constantly second-guessing what you are about to say you are able to complete much more in much less time. I really enjoy our meetings because Jacob does not demand much in terms of our manner, and that level of comfort with each other is a great thing in a mentor-ship.
6. As I stated before, Jacob is a big fan of tangents on life, and the future. He is an excellent conversationalist and takes a genuine interest in those he talks to. I’ve learnt that he is an extremely independent man and holds a lot of responsibility for someone just out of secondary school. He has talked to me about how I viewed myself and much to my chagrin has made me throw my general modesty to the ground in an attempt to improve what I saw in myself. He is an incredibly easy person to talk to and it is easy to be authentic around him.
It’s been an excellent few weeks of poetic madness, and I look forward to the future of this!