I can’t believe I didn’t post a lengthly essay seething with remorse and anger at the fact that books are still being banned all over the world. Instead, I let my students speak of banning without them even knowing it. I had two of my classes find tweets from their twitter feed (along with tweets from my twitter feed) that they had to use to write a poem. They were ONLY allowed to use the words within their ten tweets and add nothing. The part where banning comes in was that I didn’t ban or censor their writing in anyway. Cuss words ran rampant through subways and Chicago, mocking the polite and well-mannered buttoned-up educational vocabulary. Inappropriateness climbed mountains in its steel-toed boots and mini-skirt, and content just laughed it’s hyena assault and trampled, once again, the goodness of Mufasa. Not to say that all the poems were rye with sex, drugs and rock & roll, but I think anytime you look at a high schoolers twitter feed, you find irresponsibility, longing, and rebellion. I’m going to use this lesson to talk about banning and censorship next week in both Newspaper and Creative Writing. I think it’s important that students understand why Mark Twain in his dead silence can no longer use the n-word to evoke the spirit of the poor South. (I censor them everyday by having them say peanut-butter instead of cuss words and ninja instead of the n-word). I want them to know the point behind censorship and why it was so important to this country to have freedom in all ways including writing, speaking, and listening.
Since I can feel the essay coming, here is my student’s work. Free of censorship and free of the unnecessary.
“America Isn’t White”
A Poem about Woodstock for Those That Didn’t Live It.
Men Like Beyonce
I think the winning line in all of these is:
“Best Part of Love: That awkward moment/ not wearing pants.”
I also want to preface this with, I don’t always let my students use foul language, but I think as long as the language isn’t meant to add shock value to your poem, then it’s useful. For this lesson, I wanted them to have the freedom to be themselves in a concise way.