Teachers Act Up!

Thoughts on Teaching, Language, and Social Change from Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor

Tag Archives: Anne Waldman

Visual Broadsides of Anne Waldman’s Poems

One of the greatest classroom rewards of merging “teacher” and “poet” identities is infusing instruction with surprise: infusing a poetic quality to assignments that lead the instructor and her students to end up in new, unanticipated spaces.  Kapow!  I learn endless pedagogy lessons from poets and then, lucky me, I adapt these lessons for my own use.  Recently, one of my poetry mentor-goddesses, Dorianne Laux, came to town and discussed her use of “visual broadsides” with students.  This assignment asks students to engage with a poet’s work under study in a visual manner–lifting the words from the poem and landing them in a new, perhaps three dimensional, visual/literary context.

Inspired by her facebook album of students’ work, I studied Anne Waldman’s poetry with my students this semester through both performance and visual broadsides.  I regret I did not video record their marvelous performances, but I do have photos of the broadsides. They are stunning works of art in response to art.

I am humbled by what I am learning alongside students in this class and that they rose above any expectations I might have set for the activity.  Thank you to these students for sharing their work.  Shortly I plan to match the slideshow picture order with the student-poet name. Meantime, see the show!

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Terrible Twos

Lucky me, I just had dinner with Anne Waldman and my family. The children were angels.  They did not stick their hands in the nice fire they lit for us on the Big City Bread patio, they  fought only briefly over my lap and my daughter only kicked Anne once to show off her light up shoes and claim her territory, my son only hit Anne once on the back and she said she liked it.  I am renewed, encouraged, reminded of the aliveness of poetry and its possible permanent presence in my life.  And then, lucky me, Liya woke up screaming (again) at two in the morning–lucky because I have not yet completed my writing assignment this week: an ekphrasis, narrative poem based on our visit to the Georgia Museum of Art.  I hope you will all join me many hours from now at Anne’s reading tonight at Ciné, 7pm. Until then, here’s the poem that was born at 2am this morning but seems to have started a long time before that.


              Inspired by Anne Waldman’s “Stereo” and Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir’s “Horizons

With two two small small children children I need two two of everything everything, candy candy, more more, two sets of arms arms, two sets of hands hands reaching reaching for a face, tugging chocolate hands hands on new new sweaters. Nothing is mine mine anymore, and tears bluster faces faces that roar miserable mouths mouths after one minute one minute, wait one just one one more more minute minute, please say please please and they do reaching, begging to be tickled tickled one more more time time and I am tired tired but they grasp awake awake for more more, their lives lives just beginning they are just beginning and I am just ending just deciding to color or not color streaks of age, creases of smiles smiles gone bye-bye and see their new new skin skin and wonder will I ever feel my self self again again or will it be too quiet to sit sit for any length of time time by my self self echoed echoed in fragile bones, their teeth teeth are mine mine, their toes toes are mine mine and they they have hair hair like my husband and we are sexless sexless and we are naked naked, rusting rusting in the elements except a slice of us, a sliver of glass from an empty empty milk jug milk jug endlessly filled, filled, filled, filled.

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