Join the Curious Poets Club
The Curious Poets Club is a summer writing workshop for middle-school students sponsored by MUSED. Organization.
Poet Annie Kate Jones will lead "The Curious Poets Club" writing workshop this July.
Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words,” wrote the great American poet, Robert Frost. For most teens, finding the words to express the tumultuous feelings that define their everyday lives is a challenge. “The Curious Poets Club” writing workshop planned for this July at Ahha Tulsa may be just the thing to help them find their muse and put pen to paper.
Tulsa poet Annie Kate Jones will lead the workshop. For Jones, writing has been a way to process her own thoughts and feelings since her middle school days.
“That was the age when I started to develop anxiety about who I should become in the world and what everyone else needed me to be,” she recalls.
Poetry was a way for her to discover what she wanted for her own life. With this workshop, she hopes to share that gift with kids who are seeking their own answers.
“What do I want to be in this world? What do I want to offer and how do I want to do it while being the most joyful version of myself as possible,” she elaborates. “I feel privileged and responsible to be a voice of encouragement for that age group – for them to start asking themselves those questions of identity and longing.”
Victoria McArtor, poet and co-founder of MUSED, a nonprofit poetry collaborative, is helping with the workshop. McArtor also is an adjunct professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Tulsa.
“With the increasing amount of screen time kiddos have today, MUSED is excited to offer young students a reprieve from answers, the infinite amount of information we have at our fingertips, and give them a couple hours for their minds to wander in a curious way, to ask questions,” she says.
“Our goal for this workshop is to inspire curiosity in myriad topics including science, nature, visual art, music and more,” McArtor explains. “When we paint, it’s soothing. When we make music, it’s deeply immersive, but writing is a mirror, and it asks a lot of us. Our goal is to go to those deeper, hidden places of their imaginations. As much as it has ever done, poetry renews and deepens the gift that most surely makes us human: the imagination. And that is as essential to public as it is to private life because the more imaginative we are, the more compassionate we become, and that, surely, is the highest virtue of them all.”
In addition to encouraging students to write their own poems, Jones plans to incorporate the works of other poets into the workshop as a tool for expression.
“I think, sonically, hearing other writing that is exciting to listen to and also breaks the rules of what traditional English teachers might have taught us about what a good poem is supposed to be, or how we’re supposed to write, is useful,” she says. “E.E. Cummings would be a great example. He broke a lot of the rules of what we expect to hear. I think even reading it inside your head, there is a game that you can start to play. You begin to realize that language is this succulent juicy thing that you can have fun with. Applying that with realizing your own emotions through that funnel can become a really interesting back and forth.”
As part of this poetry program, Bradley Brummel, an associate professor of Psychology at the University of Tulsa, will be conducting pre- and post-workshop surveys to determine what the take away is for the kids who participate.
Brummel knows there are often stumbling blocks when it comes to expressing ourselves creatively, especially for middle school-aged kids.
“Fear of failure, evaluation and that it might not be cool,” he notes. “Children of this age are becoming very aware of their reputations as social actors.”
Brummel believes poetry has some advantages over prose when it comes to these obstacles.
“I think poetry invites kids to play with words and the styles of expression,” he says. “So much of prose requires following specific rules and getting graded. These workshops are an invitation to use poetry to process emotion and experiences without the evaluation of grading and the anxiety of the end-of-year exams.”
For McArtor, poetry is the answer to many of the dilemmas of modern life.
“In our always–on, always–connected world of television, social media, and on–demand, it can be easy to spend our entire day consuming information and simply responding to all of the inputs that bombard our lives. Art offers an outlet and a release from that,” she says. “I believe poetry can be a kind of silence that yields clarity. This workshop will help students hear the way their voices sound when they dip below the decibel level of our everyday hyperactivity.”
For more information, visit www.musedorganization.org.
The Curious Poets Club for middle school age students
Price: $99 per student
Dates: Tuesdays in July (7/10, 7/17, 7/24, 7/31)
Time: 2-4 p.m.
Location: AHHA Studios, 101 East Archer St., Tulsa