Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I anthrax the HAZMAT of your heart: Situation Awareness & Writing with Street-involved Youth


Today, I led another creative workshop for Urban Arts Initiative. We did a number of writing activities including taking the Key Words & Search Terms list from the US Department of Homeland Security's NOC that they use to monitor social media sites.


I saw this list a while ago and immediately thought of writing a poem using the terms. Of course, Tom Raworth beat me to it. His poem is reprinted on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's website. 
I printed out the list and invited the class to make poems or 'texts' using the word list. I read a little of Raworth's poem. I encouraged some students to write love poems and talked about the various ways relationships and love have used metaphors. (A 'toxic' relationship, 'burning' with love) and how Shakespeare used 'death' for sex. Many students had great lines:
"I anthrax the HAZMAT of your heart"
I suggested that some others do a kind of N+7 substitution of another text, replacing all verbs and nouns with terms from the Key Words list. One student who did the word substitution of a cento that he had created using text from Jonathan Ball's Clockfire, plus lines from Russell Edson, Charles Simic, and a Time/Life book about Ireland. I suggested that he then replace every other noun with a 'nature' word. He created the above-pictured text and was thrilled. As was I. His text is filled with verbal vitality, a dystopian tale of strange metaphoria.




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