Sunday 24 October 2010

Laughs 4

I said to them "Write what you mean when you say the word home."

"Sorry, was that home or poem," one of the guys named Michael said.

"Home." Maybe I should have said poem.  Anyway, this wasn't a laugh, strictly speaking, but I think did come from a place of trust where laughs are heard.

Michael R. sits in a cluster of tables that also includes Michael P.  It took me a month to figure out which is which.  Of course, asking them for help was a good idea.  "I'm Michael R. because I'm closest to the door where I can run away," he said.  Michael P., I've learned, is the other one.  He sits with his back to where I am most of the time.  When he turns his neck to say something to me or the rest of the class, the look on his face says good humour and good sense both.

Michael K. sits one table over.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Laughs 3

Today at the start of class I sat there and tried to say nothing.  It soon became funny, the 14 students--one missing, had to finish a project for his Theatre class--expecting me to speak.  Maybe it was nervous, not funny.  But I laughed, they laughed, and we went outside.

I'd gone out two hours earlier to come up with a list of prompts.  Of the ten I came up with, the only one that didn't for a moment catch on in someone's writing, the writers told me later, was Look back across to the university campus. What's going on over there? 

While they were doing that, I worked on my Open Mic intros for tomorrow night in Saskatoon, using the same prompts.

Monday 4 October 2010

Laughs 2

I promised I'd find or create a laugh every class.  Not sure if I laughed this morning, but just before class I got an idea: each person goes outside, collects two leaves, preferably leaves caught in mid-fall from the tree.  Can't be crunchy ones, I told them.  Back they came, with at least two leaves each. 

Next: write one word on each leaf, a word not usually associated with leaves.  What words are associated with leaves, someone asked.  Not "boring" or "stupid activity" or "what is this BS" I said. I asked them to lay out all their leaves in the middle of each table (seven in the room, 38 students). 

Now pretend you're a poet, I said, and put the words together somehow.  Write the result in your journal.  Which they did, a few groups offering their piece to the whole class.  (I couldn't persuade the boys down in table 7 to share their piece, though.  Should I COMMAND them to read theirs? I asked the class.  Yes, command them, was the reply.  I wouldn't do that, I said to the boys, their last chance to offer up their piece, which they didn't take.) 

Now a journal entry, something about leaves or what we've been doing here or what you saw outside.

No laughs, then.  But lots of good spirit and a gorgeous day, leaves ejecting all over the place.