Spring 2018 LCC Community-generated poetry project:
I asked students in my ENGL 201 class to fill out “student poet’s reflection” forms responding to two questions: What worked well about the community-generated poetry writing experience? and Do you have any suggestions for what we could do differently?
What worked well about the community-generated poetry writing experience?:
- I really enjoyed working together with my classmates and found it to be a really fun experience. One of the things that helped my group the most was when we wrote all of the interesting language on sticky notes so that we could put them together like a puzzle.
- It all came from student’s honest opinions about community which was good.
- I thought it was awesome. I enjoyed having to make a poem about nothing at all. It was cool to try and make a poem like that and not have any set guidelines or rules to it.
- The freedom to write the poems however we saw fit. It was a nice break from class while still on the topic of poetry.
- I think that everything went positively (?) with the experience. I in particular think the participation and coordination with the sign language interpretation program went well.
- I think it brought together the collective thoughts most students have about LCC. Good or bad, it was a good way to let our voices be heard.
- I think overall it was a cool experience to be able to “blindly” interact with other students on a project like this.
- It is a creative and fun idea.
- I think it was fun and a cool idea but it was a lot more stressful for me than it should have because there was a lot of information to deal with and my group members weren’t very focused.
Do you have any suggestions for what we could do differently?:
- I think handing out sticky notes at the beginning would help – at first we were stuck for a while, but once we got the sticky notes we were able to pull things and themes together fairly quickly. Also, I personally would have liked a chance to go back and revise the poem a bit in respect to punctuation and other small picky things.
- Maybe have more students participate in filling out ?s (questionnaires)
- I thought this was a fun experience and I thought handing a group of kids some raw material was a smart way of doing it.
- Involve more people and get feedback from more students.
- I would maybe just give the questionnaire to more people for a more varied response.
- I think we needed more time. I wasn’t crazy about how we put our poem together last second.
- It would have been cool to have in-class time to view other StarScapres iterations of the poems.
- Let people work individually, let people submit more than one poem, make the packet questions and poems be about topics other than just LCC, more student led, less suggestions or structure from outside people.
- I would maybe not do it in groups, instead everyone work together to get multiple poems. Or have sorting out the information on one day and writing the poems on another day.
Other feedback was anecdotal but all generally positive. Most of the faculty members who had been a part of the project came to hear the poems at StarScapes and were impressed by the process and the outcomes.
Fall 2018 ENGL 201 poems for Judy Allen’s “I Have a Name” sabbatical project/stage production on homelessness:
Poetry Project-related answers from ENGL 201 student poets in response to a general end of semester reflection question re: a memorable day or activity:
- “I loved writing the poems for the play. It was really fun how we put them together as a group. It also allowed me to get to know people in the class better.”
- “I really loved the community poetry we did for StarScapes; that was really fun.”
- “My favorite days were the community-generated poem days. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.”
- “My favorite activity was the poetry workshop – to be able to get a sense of homelessness.”
- “The community-generated poetry project was great.”
- “Memorable day: working in groups to write the home/homeless poems”
Spring 2019 Black History Month Sessions “Creating Poetry/Creative Resistance”:
Responses from the feedback forms provided at the two sessions:
What did you like most about this event?
- Reading the poems (x3)
- Working on our own poems
- Brownies were awesome, writing poetry was fun
- Watching videos of 1900’s African American culture
- The videos and the info given
- The creative poetry
- Community Poem (x2)
- Feeding off other’s creativity
- Incorporated subjects currently being taught
- Creating poetry and watching videos
- Learning history of black people
- The combination of Black history and creating literature
- Others opinions about America and how they live
- Working with other to create art
- The prompts and how they challenged my thoughts
- The videos and poems
- Enjoying with other people
- All the unique things I learned
- Opened my mind, got me thinking about how I could spread awareness about topics and writings
Spring 2019 OneBook Poetry Project with The Hate U Give:
For this project I gathered feedback from my ENGL 201 students (the poets) using 3 different sets of questions and at 3 different times:
Immediately after collaging the poems I asked students to respond anonymously to the following questions:
What worked well about the community-generated poetry writing experience?
- Being able to choose our own prompt to work with and having freedom with the poem
- It was fun to write with my classmates and helped me form group project skills.
- The entire experience was great.
- Yeah it was cool I guess getting to hear everyone talk; I just don’t like group shit that’s all.
- Seeing all the different answers from people here. Also coming up with the poem.
- I enjoyed working with classmates – and even people who I may not have necessarily grouped with if given the choice. It was nice to work on something outside of my own head, couch, bed, & bedroom…and hear words & opinions spoken out loud & hearing poetry used as connection and understanding.
- It got to not so talkative kids in class to loosen up and blab their mouth off and discuss a subject as a group. Getting to know other students more.
- Two full class periods to work on the poetry. Having a vast amount of papers to use words/themes from was very helpful. Small groups allowed for different angles to come out in the poetry.
- Collaborating with other students and sharing our writing processes. Having so many different responses to the same questions. Sharing other peoples’ experiences.
- It was fun. Had plenty of material to work off of.
- The group aspect – individually would be too much.
- The way we found words/phrases worked well…the sifting through papers and highlighting, etc.
- Having so many prompts to work with and working in small groups to create the new poems.
- The actual group work went along nicely. Great discussions and critical thinking led to great outcomes.
Do you have any suggestions for what we could do differently?
- Possibly figure out what class did what prompts to give us more insight.
- Maybe a little more time.
- I enjoyed the entire project.
- Maybe not do it? Maybe new topics.
- Less controversial prompt as some of the answers did leave me mortified. Also slightly smaller groups – so 3 instead of 4.
- Hmm I don’t think so? Not off the top of my head. Thank you!
- More time to make the poem.
- Picking our groups.
- Spend more time on it. Analyzing so many different responses and forming poems was not easy with only two days.
- Plan to need an extra day to complete the poems. They took a lot longer than we had time for. Try to branch out to different subjects.
- Require responses meet certain criteria so they provide more material to work with. Half the responses were easy/immediate “no”.
- I think we could have been “put” into groups better…I think some people chose a certain table just because the one they wanted filled up…It might spike more interest from individuals.
- Make sure that the students who respond to the prompts actually use specific language as well as maybe some unique thoughts to give more free reign for those who are creating the poems.
- Maybe give more time for putting the poems together/finding lines.
Near the end of the semester after reading the poems at StarScapes (also anonymous responses):
What impact did this project have on you?
- I think it was interesting seeing people’s processes when putting these poems together. The different methods and interpretations were cool to watch.
- It was nice to read other students’ responses to fairly serious questions. After making a poem with real responses in mind, my respect for poetry increased.
- It helped me look outside the box & gain new perspectives on topics. Also writing a poem is one thing, sharing ideas a creating something as a collective is harder but fun.
- Figuring out how to write/think with & alongside others was very impactful as a self-induced hermit. Hearing ideas & differing perspectives was very eye-opening & valuable.
- This project allowed me to see how others work with poetry, which was interesting.
- Nothing just for the fact the topic I write a lot about on my own.
- It was cool to see how people think and how some related to some thoughts I had. Some things people said had me think differently.
- The Project made me realize the many viewpoints people at LCC have.
- Working with others and understanding where people are coming from with their opinions.
- This poem helped enhance my interest in poetry especially since I wrote my own poem.
- It allowed me to see others’ point of view and practice working with others.
- Made me think about things a bit deeper.
- This opened me up to writing from different perspectives than my own for poetry.
What did you discover that surprised you?
- I discovered the many different opinions of other students These were surprising in their variety and yet, sameness.
- I was surprised that I really enjoyed the activity. Overall it was a valuable group-centered, fun, thing to do in class.
- There are tons of things you can pull from someone’s random thoughts. Teamwork is hard with poetry – outcome was great.
- My classmates think much deeper than I initially thought they did. I thought I was alone in caring about poetry, but soon found that I was (happily) wrong.
- It surprised me that I ended up being okay with the poem my group created; usually I am a very independent worker, especially when it comes to creative work.
- How creative people can be when given a touchy topic like this.
- What surprised me was how honest people were with the prompt questions. Some people got really deep.
- How open and honest people were and how honest the responses were.
- How well complete strangers can work together towards a final product.
- I think it surprised me how we ultimately managed to make a poem out of all that we had.
- That I actually really like hearing others’ ideas and opinions. I always thought I would prefer working alone.
- Our slap-together lines actually made a poem. I guess it’s true that if you write a poem in a poem format and call it a poem nobody will fight you on it.
- When it comes to assignments like this, it is fun with groups of people.
In their (non-anonymous) semester-end reflections a couple of students mentioned the Poetry Project in response to a question listing memorable activities:
- The poetry project because we had to pick from other writing and make a poem but also the point of views people had – some you agreed with and others you hated. My group almost missed the whole point of the project because we got into such a deep discussion
- I loved the poetry project as well, it was so much fun. I would love to do that again.