Original student poetry: “Though I fade / I’m still breathing”

For 15 years, the Workshop has received support from the Marin Community Foundation to conduct artist residencies at elementary schools in Marin County, primarily those serving San Rafael’s low-income neighborhoods.

In 2006, the Foundation expanded that support to include poetry residencies at Marin’s County Community School and at Juvenile Hall’s Loma Alta High School. They have continued to support poetry classes each year since, and for the past several years, we have been pleased to publish the selected work of those student poets in a colorful bound anthology.

Here is a selection from last year’s anthology:

SURVIVAL

 
Maya Angelou rises
I continue to fade
I square my shoulders
raise my head
trying to stand tall
 
People see my smile
but no one sees my eyes
drowning in my misery
always trusting lies
 
I hand my trust out to perfect strangers
I share the nothing that I have
but people take advantage
and my back can’t take another stab
 
Though I fade
          I’m still breathing
I can survive
         with the love I’m receiving
hope isn’t lost
         I stay believing
I’ve lost a lot
but I’m tired of grieving.
 
 

Though I fade poem_final

Who’s on Third? Beats of the BAYVIEW

Students at Paul Revere K-8 School and Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy have been working with our teaching artists all year to create and perfect their Afro-Peruvian dances and spoken word pieces. They’ll take the stage on March 20th at the 3rd on Third community arts festival, and would love to have you cheering them on!

Check out our Facebook event to RSVP and learn more!
https://www.facebook.com/events/717582668276589/

Performing Arts Workshop_Beats of the Bayview

Do you have questions, or want to volunteer at the event? Contact Maya Sussman: maya@performingartsworkshop.org / (415) 673-2634 ext 207

NEW STUDENT POETRY: “The Hood of Smoke and Mirrors”

For 15 years, the Workshop has received support from the Marin Community Foundation to conduct artist residencies at elementary schools in Marin County, primarily those serving San Rafael’s low-income neighborhoods.

In 2006, the Foundation expanded that support to include poetry residencies at Marin’s County Community School and at Juvenile Hall’s Loma Alta High School. They have continued to support poetry classes each year since, and for the past several years, we have been pleased to publish the selected work of those student poets in a colorful bound anthology.

2013 anthology

2013 Anthology Cover

Here, teaching artist Dana Teen Lomax’s shares her reflections on the residency, and a poem that knocked our socks off.

Leah: The Beauty of Recognizing Your Own Potential

This year, the Loma Alta residency was really different from previous years. The class was smaller than in the past, and the students and I had a chance to really connect individually. There was no place to hide, for one thing. For another, I’ve been concerned with “higher order” thinking more and more in the workshops. One lesson in particular really illustrates the deeper places we were able to go in these classes.

“The students have really made me re-think positions I have held, and they have been extremely real in our conversations. They have challenged me and themselves in the best ways, taking on the deeper questions about art and life. I respect them so much as thinkers and poets.”

I had the class read a poem by Josh Healey, “Grammatically Correct.” The students really came alive. The poem is subtitled “The Ghetto Poem,” and about halfway through, the students clamored to know if the writer was “black.” They would not rest until they knew. I tried to re-focus their attention to the craft of the poem, to the themes, to what it is “about.” Finally realizing that we had an opportunity here, not a stumbling block, we spent the next half an hour discussing the history of ghettos, oppression, feminism, and racism. The discussion was heated. The conversation had its difficult moments. And like any open-ended, provocative discussion, we all had a lot more questions at the end of the class than at the beginning. Is the author dead? Can people write from perspectives that are not their own? If they can, where’s the line? What ideas about the other sex do we maintain? Where did they come from? Do these ideas build community or make us feel isolated? In whose best interest were these ideas created? Who benefits if these ideas persist? This discussion started with a poem, but ended with the class really challenging and being challenged by their own ideas and projections. I left riveted and curious about what we had created that day.

In this class, one girl, whom we’ll call Leah, was a student who liked poetry, but hadn’t had the opportunity to write a good deal. Throughout the residency, Leah took every opportunity to learn the craft elements: metaphor, simile, personification, onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition. She seemed to literally absorb poetic techniques and then let them leak back out through her pen. The poetry classes gave her the chance to recognize her own writing talents and expand them. Bright and eager, she began to see herself as a writer and she clearly won the respect of the other students; she was like the Poet Laureate of the class. More than once I heard a student say, “Shh! Leah is about to read.” Leah’s ideas mattered — and by extension so did everyone’s, so did the class. Her poem in response to Healey’s poem and the day’s discussion is below.

Now that Leah has been set loose with her thoughts and words, I am certain that she will always have a pen in her pocket and am hopeful that she’ll choose risk-taking creatively, through verse, over other forms of risk-taking.

The Hood of Smoke & Mirrors

by Leah

As an infant
I inhaled Oakland
Before my own blood
Gave me up for the pipe.
The system took me away
and placed me in
Middle Class money.
Safe and sheltered
in an artificial family
there was nothing to do
but grow.
My hood was getting
my ass beat by my
two older brothers
learning at an early age
that nobody likes
a tattle-tale.
Rather than learning to ride a bike
my brother taught me
how to sip the bottle at 10 years young.
Dysfunctional families can still love
so why was my hood so full of
Hate?
My hood was
anywhere I could escape myself.
My hood was
a tunnel with a possible light at the end.
But that same light was more likely a
freight train.
My hood is here
My hood is there
My hood isn’t me
My hood could be anywhere…

Save the date for our student showcase!

Big news: We’re excited to announce the date of our end-of-the-year student showcase!

DATE | Thursday, May 16, 2013

LOCATION | The Theater at the Children’s Creativity Museum in Downtown San Francisco (4th and Howard)

TIME | Doors will open at 6 P.M. (Refreshments will be provided.)

More details to come. Stay tuned!

Student Work: I am Like Summer Hot

For the Workshop’s children and youth, summer days are quickly dwindling and the days of classroom bells and cafeteria lunches emerge from the unwanted mist. As one last hurrah for these summer days, here are some words from Workshop’s student Princess.

 

“I am Like Summer Hot….” 

I am like summer hot and fiery and Red.

I am like a sweet smelling

Rose waiting to blossom.

I am like a loud Panther. Excited

to be free again.

 

I am Princess. 

 

Poem can be found from our recently published Marin Anthology, “I’m Not Who You Think I Am.”

 

All the best,

The Workshop

After-School with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation

Image of Virtual Classroom Video still

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.performingartsworkshop.org/pages/virtualClassroom-tasp.html

Performing Arts Workshop (The Workshop) is proud to announce the web launch of our second Virtual Classroom. We often get questions like, “How does the Workshop partner with communities?”, “How do youth think critically in a dance class?” and “What does a Performing Arts Workshop after-school class look like?”

With our Virtual Classroom, we can demonstrate the necessity of the arts in education by sharing a real life example. Since the fall of 2010, teaching artist Shea Rahimi has worked with transitional aged youth at the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation’s After-School Program in San Francisco. We documented this experience though videos, photos, and Shea and Laura Choe, the Program Manager at TASP’s, own words. Funders, donors, potential partners and other stakeholders now have a chance to step inside an actual after-school residency that took place during the 2010-2011 school year. By documenting the learning that happens in a Performing Arts Workshop after-school classroom, we aim to demonstrate the important role the arts play in equipping our youth with the skills they need for school, work, and life in the 21st Century.

This truly was a collaborative effort. The Workshop would like to thank Shea Rahimi, Sean Hennessy, Benjamin Rait, Seth Goldstein, Justin Allen and the Tenderloin After-School Program for making this project possible. This kind of collaborative effort is vital to our essential work.

Marin Anthology Release Celebration

Picture of Bart Jones and Freddy Gutierrez holding a cake

On Wednesday, July 11th, Karena Salmond, the Workshop’s Program Director, and myself visited Marin Juvenile Hall in Marin County. We were there to pass out copies of the 2012 Anthology of student work. Teaching Artist Freddy Gutierrez collected work from Marin County students throughout his year-long residency at Loma Alta – the school located in Marin County’s Juvenile Hall.

Cover Image from Anthology

The Workshop has a multi-year partnership with Marin County and has produced three different anthologies of student work. This was the second year that both the cover and inside artwork came out of the TeamWorks Art Mentoring and Apprenticeship program. Bart Jones, Head Teacher at Loma Alta, acknowledged the multi-level partnership of people who came together to create the anthology titled, “I’m Not Who You Think I Am.”

Image of Freddy Gutierrez reciting a poem

As a first time visitor to Loma Alta, I was struck by the enthusiasm of the students to participate. They readily read their own and other students’ poems in front of an audience which included probation officers, superintendents, Workshop staff and other students. All participants were encouraged to share. Freddy shared a poem of his own and one of the probation officers recited Invictus. It was a great celebration of student achievement through a thriving arts-education partnership.

Image of people associated with Marin County partnership