ACE Think Tank poems

By Nina Greene

During one of our think tank Another Chance at Education (ACE)’s June meetings, we created “surrealist poems.” I was inspired to co-lead this activity with Namratha after rereading through my Inside-Out course anthology.

I took Professor Anita Chari’s Autobiography as Political Agency class during spring 2014, with Jordan Wilkie as our Teaching Assistant. As I reread through our anthology, I remembered one of my favorite activities during our class: Jordan leading us in creating “surrealist group poems.”  I outline below the steps to create the poem. After creating the poems in both this class and in ACE, we had each small group pick their favorite poem to read aloud to the larger group, and the room filled at different moments with weight, compassion, and laughter.

Namratha and I divided ACE into groups of four--two inside students and two outside students. Each student with a piece of paper, Namratha and I read the prompt: “I’ll never forget the day when....” Each student responded to the prompt on the line below, writing whatever came to their mind, folded the paper to hide the first line, and then passed their paper to their group member to the right. We continued this way for several more rotations, and produced the “surrealist poems” you’ll read below.

 

(1) Jimmy, Josh, Keene, and Terrence

I’ll never forget the day when…

I first went to the beach

And witnessed the most amazing sunset

IN THE BEAUTIFUL ISLAND OF SAIPAN

I Bought my first Island

endless ocean between me and the rest of the world

Am I lonely or never alone?

WITH 2 MILLION PEOPLE IN PRISON OR JAIL

I broke out with them and walked home

free as a kite in the air

Flying high again

THIS TIME ON LIFE AND NOT DOPE.

 

(2) Eric, Francisco, Shaul, and Zoë

I’ll never forget the day when…

I turned myself over to the system

and begin to really listen

to learn to embrace the impurities

and find meaning

At least for me, and that’s a start

My life now focused like a dart

clarity revealed and new breaths tasting real

Like mountain air fresh and clear

Speaks to those who clearly have it all

Like a shooting star on its free fall

dancing and twirling, truly falling but with grace

 

(3) Ben, Kosal, Nina S., and Phoebe

I’ll never forget the day when…

We left Columbus

and told the truth about Christopher

he had been in there for several hours when,

he collapsed against the table, knees crumpling

This is my heart I offer you

It’s all I have so answer me true

If you ever cared for me at all,

you’d know to lock the door behind you

or the wild things will find you

and then you will be wild too