Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Soledad Highschool Poetry Project

Tomorrow I am speaking to a local highschool about poetry and the walk. 

Oh, boy.

Here's how I wound up in this position. A month ago I was contacted by Jayanti, the director of the Monterey County Library System, and she brought to my attention the existence of poets in Soledad, the town next door. And not only do they exist but they are many; there are some 250 Soledad poets, a veritable garden of them growing in my backyard! This is a result of the effort of two English teachers, Ericka and Heather, who, along with all the other things you typically find in highschool English classrooms, have been teaching poetry. For the past semester, their seniors have been reading and writing poems!

Under ordinary circumstances this may have been the whole story. But, here's where it gets interesting. Last year, one of the county libraries hosted an author named Dom Testa. He gave a sponsored talk but later returned the money to the community. It turns out he runs a non-profit organization called the Big Brain Club, a foundation that "helps students become the best version of themselves." In concert with Soledad Highschool and the Soledad Library, the Big Brain Club is supporting the publication of Soledad Highschool's poetry.

By now, most of the students have submitted poems to be considered for publication. I got a chance to read about 150 of them. To celebrate the success of the project, Jayanti wanted to host a speaker to encourage the students/poets and talk to them about where poetry could take them. Originally, they had signed on some professor from Hartnell (a community college in the area) but she bailed. After hearing about the walk and reading my poem "To A Stranger," Jayanti invited me to fill in. So, that's how I got here.

I'm amped about tomorrow. I've got everything prepared, just tying up a few loose ends and ensuring I have all the props I need (Yes, I am employing numerous props. No, this is not a questionable move. Shush). I know I possess the words to say what I wish to say to these kids tomorrow. Whether or not they march in an orderly fashion depends on how calm I remain. When they call my name, when it's the exact moment for my stupid words to fill the silence, the kick of adrenaline that hits is tremendous. It bites the horse I'm trying to ride, and he gets to bucking. Caught up in this internal struggle for composure, I lose a certain degree of self-awareness, usually right in the middle of my talk. My mind's general can't seem to marshal his thoughts into cohesion (Order! Hold the line!) and the mouth, sensing weakness, seizes its opportunity for complete autonomy. Language spills nonstop from my rapidfire mouth and I can hardly hear--much less comprehend--the words over the dull roar that thunders under my helm. It's a goddamn siege.

There's nothing to be done except: CHAAAAaaaarge! Sally forth from the gates!


  1. Ah Sam, I do miss your daily posts... I'm certain without a doubt those young poets got caught up in your energy and ate everything you served them right up with a BIG spoon---because I sure did!! And your comment on your mouth "seizing its opportunity for complete autonomy" struck a harmonious chord with me, as mine often does the same! Keep seeking, learning, adventuring and writing because the world needs spirits like yours--you wonderful person!

  2. Wow, it is very exciting travel attraction places of India. Golden Triangle Tour 3 Days and great tourist inspirational reviews sharing the high school poetry.

  3. It is really excellent soledad High school poetry projects for the planning in India. Taj Mahal Tour Packages