Archive for the ‘schools’ Category:

Character Mashup–“Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem, Too”

This poem, by Jim Hall, is one of my favorite mashups, and I often read it in Talking to Your Characters and in Teen Poets at Bellevue College.

 

To see Jim Hall’s take on his poem, as well as the entire poem printed out, go here.

Another game to try! Do one OR MORE of the following:

1. Create a mashup poem of your own, mixing a fairy tale character with a celebrity, or a superhero with a politician, or anything else you can think of. Post the poem in the comments.

2. Write a poem from the perspective of a particular celebrity, fairy tale character, superhero, politician, historical figure, etc. Post it in the comments.

3. Record yourself or a friend performing the poem and post the link in the comments!

Don’t miss our upcoming Teen Writing classes at Bellevue College, beginning July 14. There’s enough to keep you laughing, creating, hanging out with other writing teens and sitting in the sun (yes, I like to go outside) for a whole month! (And if that sounds like bliss to you, the way it does to me, we want to meet you!)

Some writers like to sign up for back-to-back classes, so they can immerse themselves in their creative process all day. This isn’t supposed to be like school and it won’t be. (Ask one of the writers who comes back year after year after year.)

 Week 1, July 14-18

Teenage Novelist: The Novel in a Nutshell

Teen Poets: Dancing on the Razor’s Edge

Teenage Novelist: Talking To Your Characters

 Week 2, July 21-25

Creating Graphic Novels (Dana Sullivan. Waitlisted)

Young Writers’ Workshop (Waitlisted)

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories (Lois Brandt)

Teenage Novelist: Scenes and Dreams

Geek Fiction Writing

Week 3, July 28-August 1

Teenage Novelist: Plotting and Scheming

Teenage Novelist: Revisioning the Novel

Teenage Novelist: Publishing

 Week 4, August 4-8

Teenage Novelist: Novel Intensive

Teenage Novelist: Writing Short Stories (Lois Brandt)

Teenage Novelist: Live-Action Writing

 

And don’t forget August 10-13

Summer EpicWrite Camp!!!     (not affiliated with BC)

5 Rights Teen Writers Deserve

…and teen non-writers deserve them, too.

hayden

Teens have taught me a bunch about writing over the last couple of decades–both the teens who have already written five novels and the ones who would rather scrub under the refrigerator than pick up a pen. For a lot of teens, writing was ruined for them by third grade. For others, dutifully writing their five-paragraph essays, their love affair with writing is made up of clandestine moments, stolen from their more “important” term papers and college applications.

The needs of these writers are simple, but those needs often can’t–or won’t–be accommodated in school. They come down to two basic principles: ownership and community. Here’s what I think most teens ask of their parents, mentors, friends and teachers when it comes to their writing.

1. I have a right to secret writing. I may keep a private journal. It may have poems or stories in it; it may have letters I never send; it may have just random thoughts. But it is not for public consumption; it is not for anyone who wants to check my spelling or penmanship; it is not even there so you can read my poetry, celebrate my talent and understand me better. When and if I want to share it with someone, I will. In the meantime, do not ask.

2. I have a right to choose what I write about. I know I’ll have assignments for school that I don’t choose; I get that. But I have a right to channel my creativity in a way that rocks my world–even if my song lyrics make no sense to you or my spokenword piece might shock Great Aunt Betty. I have a right to create my own body of work.

3. If I am part of a writing group or class, I have a right to either share my work or not share it. Sometimes sharing my work with a group is helpful and feels good. But sometimes the writing isn’t yet ready to share. And some writing will never be ready to share. I have a right to know I can write from a deep place inside of myself, or that I can experiment and the teacher will not demand to have the work read.

4. I have a right to accept or reject critique. If I choose to get feedback on my work (and I can choose not to), I am not obligated to change the work in the way the critiquer suggests. Even if the person giving the critique is my best friend. Even if it is my mom. Even if it is an award-winning author. I have a right to decide what is useful to the piece and what is not, and to base my revisions on the advice believe best serves the work.

5. I have a right to be listened to, encouraged, and respected. If I can find a group of people who feel like my “tribe,” because they are just as strange and quirky as I am, I may show them my secret writing–misspellings and all. I may share my spokenword piece with them and hear theirs. I may write weird, experimental collaborations with some of them. I may listen to their critique and weigh it carefully, because not only are we all becoming stronger writers, these people know me. And the real reason I write is to know and to be known.

 

If you know a teen still looking for a “tribe” of creatives, we’d love to have them at our TEENWrite EPIC overnight May 17-18 at Camp Huston. Our 10th anniversary Summer TEENWrite EPIC camp will be July 8-12 at Fort Casey.

 

Book Banning or "You Can’t Come to My Party" and other Awkward Moments

With the rescinding of Ellen Hopkins’ key to the Teen Lit Festival in Humble, Texas, some lively writer-chat has been taking place. Deemed too controversial AFTER she was asked to keynote, Ellen received an “Oops! Disregard that invite,” when a district librarian brought a handful of parental complaints to the superintendent. Following Ellen’s dis-invitation, authors Pete Hautman, Melissa de la Cruz, Matt de la Peña, and Tera Lynn Childs dis-invited themselves from the event in a show of solidarity.

Because I like Ellen (and her books), it’s been good to see her respond with strength and confidence. And it got me thinking about the time I was uninvited to a school visit. I told a writer friend about it during Banned Books Week one year. She was outraged for me. “You should tell everyone!” she said. “What was so offensive in your book that they didn’t want you there?”

I told her that the book, LEGEND OF THE VALENTINE, had religious content. And my friend said, “Katherine! Why are you trying to bring religion into the schools?”

It seems a fair question. I’d been invited by a teacher who loved my book. I wanted to go, but I was hesitant. What if they thought I was a “stealth” author determined to evangelize the children for my particular flavor of religion? So I wrote a letter to the coordinator of the event, explaining that there was this aspect of the book (It’s about the Civil Rights Movement, and also has the story of early Christian martyr St. Valentine, along with prayerful talk about loving one’s enemies). I planned to address religion as broadly as possible, given the diverse setting, and assured her it wouldn’t be a Sunday school lesson.

Nevertheless, she was uneasy and she asked me not to come. I suggested some other authors for her, and that was that.

Personally, I think we need to be less afraid about religion in the public arena than we are. If we can allow children to learn about and discuss spirituality and religions in a heterogenous environment, as if it is a normal part of life, we can go a long way towards diminishing the fearmongering that takes place — both among the religious and the non-religious.

But ideologies go crashing against each other when we bring up censorship and religion–specifically, Christianity–at the same time.In some quarters, censoring Christianity is okay censorship. And yes, I know that censoring and belittling other religions has been standard in this culture. I’m not for that, either.

And it’s never fun to be kicked out of the party.