French American International School's Day of Action

A few days ago, I had the immense privilege facilitating a workshop on poetry and social activism for the French American International School’s Day of Social Action. I shared some poems from my chapbooks regarding intersectional identity, lineage, and joy. We read others that discussed the Pulse shooting, Emmett Till, and Guantanamo Bay detention camp. We sat with grief, then thought about what it means to activate sadness and transform the feeling of being overwhelmed.

This led perfectly into our next poem: reading Emily Rose Cole's "Love Poem to Myself." I almost gave them the option of a free write, until I heard a voice whisper to me to ask them to write their own responses to it. Before we started, we acknowledged how hard it could be to take a little bit of time to celebrate ourselves, especially when thinking about how much time we spend in high stakes, academically charged environments, and how we're so often bombarded with of an ever-crumbling world. But we did it anyways. I played John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" in the background and we wrote. Short lines. Long lines. Single words. All in the direction of being enchanted with one’s self.

We wrote and talked about the difficulty of the task at hand, how we were a bit out of practice with the act of showing ourselves a little bit of love. A few students bravely shared their work. Here's one of my favorite lines from the day, from a fantastic student named Aaron:

"I already know everything, don't I? No you don't. So love your struggle."

And with that line, we journey on, assessing what we do know, and embracing the joyful mystery of who we are becoming.