Learning What I Already Know

Last week I participated in a workshop for Writers in the Schools. This is my second year with WITS and Colorado Humanities. As a writer, the opportunity to share my craft with young people is both edifying and inspiring. In developing a lesson for young students, I examine the mechanics of my writing and identify the specific component of my own process that I want to teach. In the classroom, students ineluctably generate surprising responses to the writing exercises and inspire me to think of my own writing in new ways.

Jack Collom literally wrote the book on teaching poetry in the classroom: Poetry Everywhere. He opened the WITs workshop by leading a writing exercise with seventeen of us. As we gathered around a landscaped pond outside the Colorado Humanities offices in Denver, he asked us to write and share a poem that expressed the “pondness of the pond”, an exercise similar to the activities John Daido Loori Roshi prescribed during a Zen intensive weekend.

I had Jack as a professor at Naropa University […]