Belfast poet Nathaniel Joseph McAuley worked with students at City Neighbors High School through a residency with Baltimore TheatreWorks
A moment of reflection.
I can’t begin to describe how much of an honour working with City Neighbors High School has been for me as part of my USA writing residency. Every time I work with young people I am astounded not only by the talent, but the liberated approach they take towards creative writing. They write in a way which is fearless, heartfelt and unashamedly vulnerable to an extent that those who come to writing later in their life, or who write “seriously” or “professionally” would be hard-pushed to replicate.
As any teacher will tell you, talkative, engaged children alleviate the pressure of teaching, in general, but particularly in a class requiring discussion and hands-on creative work. In teaching poetry, regardless of personality type, the teacher its often rewarded with the drafted and redrafted words of all students. The most exciting part of my week, then, without mentioning names, was watching quieter students find their poetic voice and understanding them in a way which regular classes simply can’t facilitate.
I felt a certain home-coming working with the school’s poetry club. 6 or 7 young poets vocationally finding their voice. What more could a visiting poet ask for to gain insight into the society, art, life, everything, of his new surroundings, but a quiet class room and focus ground of young visionaries? I was simply blown away by some of their ability to rhyme (surpassing my own to a near-embarrassing extent) and performance. Performance — such a seldom considered skill to teach to young writers (not that there was much to teach these guys anyway!)
My thanks go to all my students and Miss Jenny, the good folks at TheatreWorks and the Weber family, in particular co-founder of TheatreWorks Joan Weber for her hard work, support and (matched only by my Priest and Mother) life advice and direction.