So, I've been asked to give a reading at a high school next Thursday. Apparently, a teacher read some of my work on the net then she emailed me to ask if I was still living in town and if I would be willing to do a reading. I am honored by this request because it will be held at my old high school. I spent some crazy times there and this time I have the opportunity to visit again.
I will be giving a reading/lecture to a group of 150 unruly high school students and a poetry workshop for a class of creative writing students. This is probably the largest crowd I have ever read for and it's kind of freaking me out. I think I know what the main point of my presentation will be but I still haven't selected which poems I will read. I remember I sat in the auditorium once, listening to some parole officer tell us about his career and how we should stay in school. I don't want to be that guy. I couldn't take him serious with his plastic moustache, shit-face grin and dull clothes. What the hell did he know about being a kid at our school, dealing with all the bullshit we dealt with everyday? But I do want to say something meaningful, something that makes a lasting impression on these kids. I'm suppose to talk about poetry and how it could make an impact on their lives. But what really matters is that they walk away knowing that their stories are valid just as anyone else's.
Rilke once said, "Poems are not; as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough.)--they are experiences." Believe me, these kids definitely have a wealth of experiences to draw from. I want to let them know that it's okay to be honest, to write things down, to share their stories with the world. Poetry needs that right now, a revitalization, a new breath.