A Handful of Residencies

Regular readers may remember I resolved to finish The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures by the end of March and also that that was going to be a tall order. Well, I’ve made significant headway, but I’m not there yet. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of my students’ work. I’m currently teaching five residencies with Chicago public school students who are creating theatrical performances from scratch.

On Saturdays I’m directing the CPS All City Theater Program which brings together teens from across Chicago. For this performance, we’re investigating maps. I was inspired by the fact that the students in the program come from neighborhoods all over the city as well as this quote I came across in my initial research for the residency: Continue reading A Handful of Residencies

Missed Connections: Meet me in a field of snow.

English: Snowy field
English: Snowy field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started this blog to document the process of writing my first book, The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures. If you’ve spent time here, you know I mostly write about what’s going on in my brain as I write, revise and obsess over this massive project. I spend as much time as I can on the manuscript. But in the meantime, a girl’s gotta eat. So, today I’m going to share a story from my day job. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wait tables a couple nights a week. But by day I’m an interdisciplinary teaching artist, which means I work with students, teachers and community members in schools, healthcare centers and jails on all kinds of writing and performance projects.

I’m currently working with a seventh grade class at a Chicago public school on the South Side through one of my favorite arts ed organizations, Urban Gateways. My students are creating a performance that investigates connection – the people, places and things they feel connected to and how they are impacted by that web of connections. Seeking material to inspire student writing, I started thinking about the missed connections ads in the classified sections of local papers or on websites like Craigslist. I thought that could be a fruitful place to start an exploration of connectedness. A little digging brought me to a beautiful site called Literary Bohemian, an online journal of travel writing where I found a prose poem called “new york craigslist > personals > missed connections>” by Megan Falley.

My students and I talked about the concept of a missed connection ad. I likened it to a flyer you might see stapled to a telephone pole or tree for a missing pet or person. We talked about the people we might miss a connection with – a friend or relative who died or moved away, a fictional character we could never meet in real life or someone we hadn’t yet met, but hoped we would someday. We talked about dreams and being weird and how in poems you can use images that are dreamlike and surreal to say something about a relationship that is hard to say in words. Here are some of the poems they came up with. I think they’re pretty brilliant. We’ll use these poems and more to compile a script the students will perform at the end of May. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Continue reading Missed Connections: Meet me in a field of snow.