this clutch of students

For the last year and a half, I have coached a slam poetry team. I was offered the job the same day I moved into my first apartment after marriage. This job was all I could manage while I finished up grad school. It was just a couple hours one afternoon a week and I sat in a classroom with a clutch of high school students where we watched performance videos and read page poems. We discussed what made them special. There were sacred moments of quiet when I would watch these students bent over pages or their iPads, creating. Sometimes I created alongside them.

We put words to what was unsaid before. They shared their innermost fears and dreams and thoughts aloud with the group. They became friends. The close kind of friends that know all sorts of intimacies about each other. They became serious writers. They became dedicated to this team, this shared passion, this ability they each had cultivated. We geeked out together, week after week.

I sat so many hours at this desk, crafting lesson plans. Unbilled hours but I didn’t mind because this team had become my own creative endeavor. I had graduated by now and this team was my new place to create. It wasn’t a thesis. It was something bigger: a mass of energy that kept expanding. Students sent me their poems and together we considered them down to verb choice and punctuation. They revised. They saw the world outside themselves and articulated what they had to say about it.

Then, they performed. They gave their words an audience and I sat there, spellbound, goosebumps prickling my arms. We created an electric current together. This team is one of my proudest collaborations. To see them recognized for their talent after all their hard work makes me believe in the good of the world.

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