Decent workshop today, with exercises that some of the kids seemed to really engage with. Funny how rare that has become, the sight of young minds (or any minds for that matter) truly at play in the possibilities of language (or of anything) for the pure joy of it, free of agendas.
The agendas, no doubt will come, that's if any of them at all have aspirations (pretensions?) to art. They seem decent sorts at present, free of the affectations and arrogance which afflicts so many in CAP.
It is innocence like theirs that is truly precious in youth, not virginity. Nothing so carnal.
Ann, the one with cerebral palsy, so clearly brimming with talent but already you know how the world has framed her in the cage of her body, her soul in an eternal coma of flesh still nevertheless luminous. Dare I even talk of soul in a situation like this?
No wonder Grace could make them cry. All that invisible grief dammed behind verse, outside the reach of any theory of educational psychology.
Perhaps I should have told them of the real journey of writing, instead of passing the time with small mental exercises.
Or at the least, as I'd once do, try to paint them a world in which they are masters of their own destiny, in which their personal integrity as artists and more importantly as people is what matters most. That they can build any kind of future they want to envision, had they only the imagination to believe in their own worth. No Writer's Award? Invent one. No market for poetry? Create one. No publisher for literary fiction? Start one.
I look back at the past few years and wonder, why did we bother?
I used to believe in a notion of value that Felix still claims he does, letting your own work and efforts speak for themselves and staying clear of the theoretical. A sort of cultural meritocracy.
So that's why no one gets to be Young Artist of the Year without first being nominated (or more frequently, getting their friends to nominate them.) And that's why no one is ever surprised to hear that's how the system works.
How to go and tell kids that? Which is more irresponsible -- to share that cynicism as if it's the world's given truth, or to paint it over in you-can-change-all-that platitudes?
"Are you trying to inspire me?" must be the death knell of poets and management consultants alike.
So what is a workshop?
Are we door-to-door salesmen hawking a given set of writing "tools" to sharpen their native wit and knack? Are we counsellors seeking to guide unshaped minds towards their own deeply personal clarities? Are we therapists, wielding poetry and performance like deep hypnosis to uncover the buried scars which circumscribe any life? Gardeners and plumbers: pruning lines, tweaking flow?
Maybe all we can be is ourselves, with all our flaws, biases and idiosyncrasies, and what love we have. However poor an offering that must be.
Whatever we are or are not as artists, we have to cling to the notion, finally, that if nothing else we have our humanity. And that it is enough.