Two slam poets arrived here in Unalaska last Monday to work with Unalaska high school English students.
Students from Ms. Rudio’s class made the march down to Mrs. Purevsuren’s classroom to form an amoeba of young writers, all of the same grade level. For the first activity of the day, the students got up from their round tables, mingled about the room and formed a circle where they formed pairs and had to introduce their partner using only facts. Then, the other partner reciprocated but this time, introducing with only lies. This led to some pretty wild first impressions.
The poets, never having been to Unalaska, had a lot of truth to catch up on during their short retreat. Their focus for the three days they were here was on perception, to peel back the layers of our personalities and start conversations in our communities. Poetic or not, a conversation was their goal.
In their words, they wanted to find “our truth”.
The visiting poets were learning something new about the students every session, which is to be expected. However, by the second class, it was evident that students were learning new things too, about their oftentimes lifelong classmates.
On the last day, Wednesday, classes were given their first prompt to write an actual poem. It was, “You may think I’m (this), but really, I’m (this).”Brave recitations were given, and classmates uncustomarily clapped (not snapped). Kudos was given both out loud and silently in classmates’ heads. What most impressed however was that the visiting poets had started a legitimate conversation.
For that, Unalaska students say come back any time!