jayne pierce, bronxite-poet-librarian-13_semi-regular, put out a general call a few months back for poets to come visit her school and present their poetry to the students of junior high school 56.
between teaching at rikers island and being in a jhs doing my work- i would rather be at rikers. no joke. the kids were brutal.
after a short intro from jayne, i start my first piece and as soon as i open my mouth KNOCK-BANG-KNOCK-BANG a group of kides that came late were banging on the door to get in and wouldnt stop until *I* opened the door for them. i did two pieces then tried to talk about poetry. no go. did another piece (a PG version of ‘ceviche’) and had all 80 of them in the palm of my hand only to lose them during the next round of q&a. RING!!! goes the sixth period bell and half the kids are out of here. ok, smaller group may equal better attention span– psyche!
this concentrated group was even worse with a bunch walking out on me… one right in fornt of me! i was like, ‘whre ya goin?’ “out”
with about 10 minutes left, i just sat down with the three most attentive kids and one teacher and just shot the shit till the seventh period bell rang.
suffice to say- i felt dejected and just wanted to apologize to all of 56 for dropping the ball. “oh my gawd, you did great! i havent seen them that still in forever! you really had them for a lil bit.” well, that was only like maybe 15 minutes or so. “are you kidding? we had a cop come here in full uniform and audio visual aids- they ran him out in twenty minutes. he just up and quit the talk!”
ok, i wasnt a total failure and then three other teachers chimed in with similair repsonses.
thats great- when do you want me to come back? “you WANT to come back? for real?”
this is when i started explaining how 13 and acentos is a great safe place to do your work but it may be too safe and coming to a spot like this lets you REALLY test your work. having a crowd that is under NO obligation to listen to you adds an edge to your work that ol’ timers talk about ALL the time (way too much but thats a different rant)