In my last post, I outlined the importance of process. Now, I’d like to consider ways we can incorporate and celebrate it in our classrooms.
Lately, I’ve been enchanted by some of the poems, projects, and installations coming out of Australia’s Red Room Poetry Object. What I especially like about The Red Room Project is that pieces of the process found their way into the final installation of the project. Students showcased their work in old suitcases, cabinets, wardrobes and even discarded fridges. They display all stages of the process, including anything from brainstorming to free writing, from initial to polished drafts. This idea feels relevant because it celebrates the idea of play alongside that of product. In this model, inspiration is as valued alongside perfection and process, even failure, becomes as worthwhile as “finished” pieces.
Mapping Process: Mapping process can be tricky. One tool I suggest to students is to utilize a private online blog to capture most of their initial fodder, drafts, and then final versions. It’s a handy way to record the multiple steps of the process and also a convenient record of artistic choices made along the way. When asked to justify and explain their personal aesthetic, it can be a great tool in owning and analyzing one’s authorship and voice.
Cultivating Play: As a teaching artist, I’ve found that incorporating the concept of “play” as highly generative first step. Writing games and classroom collaborations take a lot of the fear out of starting a project, bolster confidence, stimulate ideas through shared conversation and just help everyone not take themselves so seriously. Games such as exquisite corpse, collaborative poetry (i.e. renga), and pairing writing with visual art can be great places to start when introducing a lesson. It’s important to save and represent these moments in the final showcase.
Embracing Celebration: The knowledge that your work is going to be read, displayed and shared is one of the most stimulating, motivating and rewarding parts of the creative process. Often, my best poems are birthed from the knowledge I have a upcoming reading or that I am going to give a talk to a specific audience in the near future. The Pages publication provides a great context for this kind of work, but I think classroom installation within the school could be also rewarding. Creating the idea of audience from an early point on often improve the quality of the work being produced.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own process as well as the process you ask of your students. What works? What doesn’t work? How do you think these ideas might play out for The Object Lesson? Are installations in the classroom/school an option for your students?