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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Can Poetry Change You? Ask Luis J. Rodriguez


Luis J. Rodriguez

"It is not enough to prepare our children for the world; we also must prepare the world for our children." -- Luis J. Rodriguez

"Art is the heart's explosion on the world. Music. Dance. Poetry. Art on cars, on walls, on our skins. There is probably no more powerful force for change in this uncertain and crisis- ridden world than young people and their art. It is the consciousness of the world breaking away from the strangle grip of an archaic society."--Luis Rodriguez

Listen up. In "Writing As A Way of Healing," Louis de Salvo says journaling is a therapeutic activity. To be therapeutic, she says, write everyday for at least 20 minutes a day, write in a private place, write about something that's close to you, write about one's feelings, write in a vivid and compelling way, and write in such a way that links events to feelings.

At its best, this is what poetry does. The poet gets some place where he or she feels safe, relaxed and comfortable and can think without interruption. Then the poet writes about whate he or she knows as vividly and as concisely as possible. But can poetry heal? Consider Luis J. Rodriguez.

In "The Healing Power of Poetry," Rodriguez talks about how poetry transformed him from gangbanger and drug addict to an engaged educational and political animal. When he was eighteen, he attended his first poetry reading Jose Montoya (Chicano) David Henderson (African American), and Pedro Pietri (Puerto Rican). He said the words and the ideas were so powerful that, long after he went home, their words stayed with him. So much so that he wrote a poem about his experience:

These poems were graffiti scrawls
along the alleys & trash-strewn tunnels
of my body,
the metaphoric methadone for the heroin
hurling through my bloodstream,
the lifeline I already had inside and
didn't know.

These poems were pool sticks, darkened
gangways,
a swirl of sunrise after the graveyard shift,
a blood-black yelling behind torn cur-
tains,
a child screaming and nobody coming
to help...

Soon after attending this reading, he quit gangs. A year later, he quit drugs. He began to lead a more mentally conscious and socially active life. He wrote of poetry:

"{poetry} became my medicine for the healing of my traumatized and troubled soul. I'm convinced no therapy sessions, no psychosomatic drugs, no institution could have done as much."

Check it: In today's increasingly sparse State and County budgets, schools, especially public schools, are cutting arts, music and sports programs and substituting them with standardized tests. And they have the nerve to call this education. But here's the daddy's question to educators:

* In the quest to trim budgets, how many students fail to find that one adult friend and mentor to help them get through an otherwise woeful junior high or high school experience?

*How many students fail to make a sound on the violin or trumpet that would reach their very soul and cause them to spend hours practicing to reach and sustain that tone each day?

*And how many students fail to hear a Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni or Audre Lorde and be transformed from a frightful individual in a world of their own to a connected individual engaged with the world, feeling empowered enough to keep transforming him or herself so they can in some way change that world?

Standardized tests may help you to get into a college, but writing can help you reflect deeply, analytically and concisely, once you get there. And, as Rodriguez suggests, writing poetry can transform you--wherever you are.
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NOTES

* Born 1954, is an American poet, novelist, journalist, critic, and columnist.
* He has won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, among others.
* Best know work: "Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A."

BOOKS BY RODRIGUEZ:

- Always Running : La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.
- La Vida Loca : El Testimonio de un Pandillero en Los Angeles
- Music of the Mill : A Novel
- It Doesn't Have to Be This Way : A Barrio Story
- Republica de East LA, La: Cuentos
-The Republic of East LA : Stories
- Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times
- Hearts and Hands: Making Peace in a Violent Time

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rainywalker said...

Along the way I may have mentioned that my youngest daughter teaches at a poor school in Texas. She violates the new law of education every day when she reads stories and poetry to her students. When the big boys come around she switches to the smoke and mirrors. The rest of the time she teaches. Then when some of the students achieve a grade level in half a year they want to know what she is doing. Read them a story, a poem and the students head to the library. Poetry changes everyone, who has a soul.

MacDaddy said...

Rainy: I'm sure you are very proud of her.

Anonymous said...

I teach at the junior high level. If I only connect closely with only a few students, I feel sooo inspired to learn more myself and to get more training so I can connect with more of my students the following year.

brownsugatou said...

I'm a new follow here... Rainywalker I like what you said "poetry changes everyone, who has a soul", that's powerful. Very inspirational blog post also.

MacDaddy said...

Brownsugatou: Thanks. And just so you know, I tried to comment on your blog couldn't due to the word verification notice. It got the notice but no words to verify.Others may be having this problem with your blog as well.