Voices We Hear

School lockers

School lockers

Welcome to a creative writing blog about the issues and reactions to teaching and student-ing! This is the blog’s first post.

As an educator entering his ninth year, I have found myself with a host of stories about individuality as well as stories about the universality of life experience. About three or four years ago, I began reacting to the feelings I had, the words my students said, and the memories we all share about the experiences of navigating the uncertain halls of any given school day.

I like to write pieces that highlight the depth that adolescents have in a way that incorporates humor and taste. Reflecting on the various experiences I have had with young people, I find myself coming back to the ideas of the shared experience between teacher as human and student as human. I find that most of my memories of the teens I have taught involve me learning or changing my thinking, based on what they do, say, or write. It’s funny, you go into an experience thinking about all the major conflicts you may have – or even the major successes, but it’s in those minor moments, maybe the moments in between other moments, that show the most important thinking. Working with teens teaches me about them, but it also teaches me about myself – how I define self as an adult, and how I was when I was in their desks. Sometimes, I think we see in adolescents the worst parts of ourselves. For most people, the teen years were the worst, smelliest, most uncomfortable ones, and yet it is in those years we typically see the deepest yearning, the most heightened senses of our lives. I like to capture all of it in what I write.

I have written over fifty poems I included in the manuscript I continue to work on, and my goal is to post them regularly, one at a time, in this space. Many poems have been through multiple drafts, many have been written down only once before. Some will invariably have been cooking up in my head and maybe first see light in a new post.

Once those poems have been posted here, my goal is to continue writing poems in addition to personal narratives, anecdotes, and other media, as a means to continually connect with others about teen issues and honor the experience of not yet being an adult. When time and wit allows, I will do my best to explain where and how the poem originated, but for the most part, I’ll leave the analysis and noticing to the reader…because after all, shouldn’t poetry be more about the audience than the poet himself?

Eventually, don’t we all want to be published? My dream would be to have the collected voices in my poetry someday be available for purchase in a book store, but for right now, publishing to the web is scary enough. As for an audience, mine is as wide as we make it. I’d love to hear from other secondary educators with similar or opposing stories and viewpoints. Adding the voices of those featured in my poems – the teens of right this moment – would be valuable and rich for feedback. And even if you’re someone who simply likes poetry and remembers the odds and ends of adolescence, hearing your voice would equally be inspiring.

The title of the collection refers to the literal voices I have heard (and continue to listen to) in my hallway, but it also recognizes the distractions of growing up – imagine sitting in your English class while just outside the windowed door, you can hear passing students…

My poetry covers a wide spectrum of voices: male, female, educator, teen, omniscient and reflective; I also have written in various poetic forms and structures, pushing myself to experiment with enjambment, prescribed meter, rhyming, etc.; and I have also responded to and discovered a great deal of the issues, silly and devastating, trite and unique, that one experiences, backpack-clad, running to catch the bus or entering a classroom for the first time…and all the bits in between.

I’ll warn you here that apart from one or two failed attempts at blogs over a decade ago, I have a lot of experience to gain with blogging. I am not a career blogger, but over time, I hope my messages get clearer, and my blog becomes more and more readable.

So, as I continue this process, if you’re interested and you find yourself tired of scrolling through the same posts and updates you see every day, please read and enjoy the voices we remember, the voices we use, the voices we may want to forget, and the voices we hear.