Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Photo To Sum Up "Writing in the Limelight," A Family Event Sponsored by @cwpfairfield @fairfieldu. #Dreaming

A Butterfly Dreaming
We didn't know what to expect for our Fairfield University Bookstore event, as it was the first of its kind and we only had a few reservations. Caryn ordered me to present for a maximum of 20 minutes and then to give the kids 20 minutes to write, with 20 minutes of Open Mic. With a minute before the program began, only two kids were in attendance. Then, then the families arrived en masse.

It was wonderful, especially to have parents, kids, and teachers writing together.

I chose to feature Brown Girl Dreaming, The Crossover, Booked, and Last Stop on Market Street as these books have touched my heart the last couple of years, especially with opportunities to work with and to meet the authors. I took segments of each text and I had the kids analyze each for what they tell us about writing. After we read like sleuths, I announced it was time to be robbers. I said, "It's okay to steal like a writer and to choose writing we admire to emulate." I gave everyone in attendance time to compose and said my job was to help anyone who was stuck.

"I am the king of unsticking blocked writers," I announced. I only had two takers. The rest of the attendees began working fluidly. When it was time for Open Mic, I was impressed that so many volunteered their work (composed rather quickly, but wonderfully). An engineer from German who was in the house came up to me afterwards and asked if I'd be interested in doing a similar exercise with his exchange 20-somethings who come to CT every summer to look at engineering in the United States. I said (with the wisdom of Kwame Alexander), "Yes. I can do that."

Last night, one of the attendees (a graduate of Fairfield University, a friend to CWP-Fairfield, and a spirit who is central to the life Chitunga and I live) posted a photograph of her daughter consumed by Jacqueline Woodson's book. She posted on Facebook that he daughter couldn't put it down.

That was my goal! In addition to the writing workshop, Fairfield University Bookstore put out a display of award-winning books and after we wrote, I did a shout out to several authors who I though the youth would love. It was awesome seeing everyone leave with literature in their hands.

I have to admit, I was a little bit in jittery land. At first, when it looked like it would be a small crowd, I made adaptations. Then, as more and more came and the bookstore needed to pull out additional tables and chairs, I got a little nervous. I realized the audience ranged from ages 2 to 72.

But everyone wrote, including one young man who has been part of the professional development I've led all year in Trumbull elementary schools. The kids rocked and I returned home to finally play my Prince albums and to love the fortunate life I live while I have it.

I might have this photo framed: one for me, and one for her mother.

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