Saturday, October 15, 2016

River of Words Workshop with Pam Michael

Warm up, blind contour line drawing of an object in a paper bag. Using your finger as your  new "eyes" trace along the edges of your object, and make a drawing from what you feel. 

I had to laugh, Pam also used rubber bands to keep our non-drawing hands inside the bag, and so we couldn't peek. Also, snails have weird eyestalks very much like little fingers, art imitating life imitating art.

When you're done with your drawing, make a word cluster. Any words that come to mind. Don't censor, don't think. I didn't use any of them in my poem, but it was pleasant to warm up by drawing...

Then unmask your object, after you've speculated as to color, texture, etc. Share the drawing with the class. I speculated the stripes but not the brown color. I went for pink. Sometime what you  already know isn't useful. begin fresh each time.

write down 5 images

1. Outdoor setting
2. weather
3. something lost
4. something found
5. final line, wrap it up: comment, compare, contrast, complain, question. Revise. Read aloud to class.

The wind plays the barbed wire 
with its ghost fingers
The trees hiss and sigh 
while the grass whispers secrets
Cumulus clouds gather on the horizon
ladened with the promise of rain
Looking for remnants of lost childhood 
on this lonesome ridge
Garnered the wisdom of experience,
remembering then, and now, as one thing.
What other secrets does the wind dream up?


Pam also gave us a historical perspective and slide show of River of Words highlights. An amazing annual international poetry and art contest for children and a program that reached students from around the world. Fantastic art and touching stories of students in refugee camps sending in their artwork. Perhaps the saddest story is that Pam turned over the project, her life's work, and all the memorabilia to St. Mary's College, and they've let it go defunct. Tossed 20 years' worth of art out.  But the ROW website is still up. Check out the website and download her free PDF River of Words Teacher's Guide.

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