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Advocacy 101 Artists are Advocates: Here’s Where to Begin Bay Area Teaching Artists and Educators Address White Racial LiteracY

#SaveTheNEA 5 WAYS TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PROGRAM #8

Advocating for the Teaching Artist March 2017


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

Quarterly Magazine Staff:

TAG Executive Director: Jean Johnstone

TAG Membership Director: Kenny Allen

TAG Quarterly Magazine Administrative Associate: Caryn Cooper

TAG Quarterly Magazine Design Associate: Wendy Shiraki

National Advisory Committee:

Glenna Avila (Los Angeles, CA) Eric Booth (Hudson River Valley, NY) Lindsey Buller Maliekel (New York, NY) Lara Davis (Seattle, WA) Kai Fierle-Hedrick (New York, NY) Jon Hinojosa (San Antonio, TX) Lynn Johnson (San Francisco Bay Area, CA) Nas Khan (Toronto, Canada) Tina LaPadula (Seattle, WA) Miko Lee (San Francisco Bay Area, CA) Ami Molinelli (San Francisco Bay Area, CA) Betsy Mullins (Miami, FL) Louise Music (San Francisco Bay Area, CA) Maura O’Malley (New Rochelle, NY) Nick Rabkin (Chicago, IL) Amy Rasmussen (Chicago, IL) Nicole Ripley (Chicago, IL) Sandy Seufert (Los Angeles, CA) Yael Silk, Ed.M. (Pittsburgh, PA) Jean E. Taylor (New York, NY)

Teaching Artists Guild is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives.

THANKS

Teaching Artists Guild would not be possible without funding from these generous organizations:

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Teaching Artists Guild is also made possible through the generous support of our members.


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

Gearing Up for Change - SPRING 2017 Hello Teaching Artists, Last year in March we produced our first Advocacy Issue of the TAG Quarterly Magazine. We have learned so much in a year. At that time, I made a commitment to involve myself more deeply in advocacy efforts. I wanted to learn more about the process itself, and to study and search where TAG could make the most concentrated impact. I wanted to know where I personally could do the most, too. After a summer of activity and learning, when November hit, this effort was redoubled. Like many of you, I am doing my best to create the change I want to see, with the tools I have. Here’s what I’ve learned. Locally. The availability of the arts to students in the city I live in is not terrific at all. This is going to change. What about where you live? Do you have kids in school? What’s the scene like there, and what can you do to make it better? Parent and community voices are hugely influential to principals and school board members. I had no idea how much so until I started participating in this way with my parent hat on. Combine that with my knowledge and background in arts ed, and I make a mean advocate at my city level! I bet you do, too! At the Regional and Statewide Level. What State are you in, and what’s funding like there? What policies are on the books as regards arts education, and which are enforced? Try to look it up. Start your own personal research project. I began attending meetings about state education and arts education policy, and am working on a number of projects at this level both with Teaching Artists Guild,

and as a citizen. The first step has been finding out what the status quo actually is. It’s a great puzzle. Nationally. Are you emailing, writing letters, calling your representatives? There’s that, and it’s really so easy to do. If you’re following the news at all, you can see that the great swell of people’s voices are making an impact, and that engagement is very high. But here’s the thing, the national-level advocacy really circles back to the local; we can most easily create the change we wish to see in our own communities. We can then grow this and see it recognized and replicated at the regional and state level, and it can become a beacon for how it’s done. Whatever you choose, get those changes enshrined at the City and State level! Make your city the best in the area you are passionate about, and talk it up, push it out, make it a guide for others. Show how to solve for that particular issue in your community. If you can scaffold a lesson plan, you can sure as heck do this. I see arts education as a barometer for equity. And I see teaching artists as the crucial workforce, those who can both create and teach, bringing all that is essential for excellent education, resulting in engaged and thoughtful citizens, into the room with them. Thanks for being here with us. I’ll see you in June.

Jean Johnstone Executive Director Teaching Artists Guild Page 3


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

CONTENTS

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

ARTISTS ARE ADVOCATES - BEGIN HERE

Lisa Levy, from The Center for Arts Education, guides us through an arts advocacy 101 course. Covering everything from finding a cause to influencing elected officials.

ADVOCACY RESOURCE OVERVIEW

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There are so many existing advocacy resources on the web. Here are some of the best.

TEACHING ARTIST INTERVIEW: PEGI DEITZ SHEA Continuing the popular “I Interview Teaching Artists” column by Kate Bell, this issue we feature teaching artist Pegi Deitz Shea.

WHITE EDUCATORS FOR RACIAL JUSTICE Teaching Artist Indi McCasey gives us an inside look at a recent meeting of WERJ (White Educators for Racial Justice) in Oakland, CA.

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5 Ways to Advocate for your program Check out these 5 useful tips for advocating for your teaching artist program within the K-12 system. Article by Caryn Cooper.

LOCAL AND STATE LEGISTLATION: WHAT CAN WE DO RIGHT? TAG Executive Director Jean Johnstone brings us up to speed on the latest legislative actions affecting teaching artists in California.

REGIONAL UPDATES Our regional updates are going digital! Check out a few of the highlights here in the magazine, then head to our website for more.

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“MESMERIZING BEAUTY” Dan Godston of Borderbend Collective gives us an inside look at his recent experiences teaching poetry to students. Page 5


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

ARTISTS ARE

Photo by Adrienne Tarver

ADVOCATES

HERE’S WHERE TO BEGIN by Lisa Levy, Esq.

Can artists be advocates? Can teachers be advocates? Can art teachers and teaching artists be advocates? The easy answer to those questions is yes, because anyone can be an advocate if you have a cause you care about and something to say. Artists and teachers are often inherently advocates who work to advance a variety of causes and support those who have been disenfranchised, because they see and speak up for those at the margins of society. Artists and teachers have also historically been leaders at the forefront of social justice movements where they are ready to take a stand. The question is, not can you be an advocate, but rather, what is the most effective way to advocate?

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

For those who have never been directly involved in advocacy, welcome! It’s never too early or too late to begin. For those who have done this before, it’s time to start sharing what you know. Like anything else in life, the more you learn and get involved, the easier it generally gets and the more confident you grow. One simple way to start advocating is to join an organization that supports the cause that you care about. This allows you to become involved and meet and learn from like-minded individuals. Depending on where you live and whether you have access to the internet and can travel, there are opportunities to join a variety of groups. There are many organizations that support the arts, education, and other issues. Some of these groups are partisan (associated with or supporting a political party) and others are non-partisan. Some of these organizations are local, and some national; some support only one cause, while others are more general. Before making a decision to join one, do some research. You may be looking to start your own organization, but see if another group already exists that is doing similar work so that you can combine resources.

Photo by Adrienne Tarver

“First step, if you are an eligible voter, register to vote in your district and vote in every election.”

So, now that you’ve decided on your cause and found some like-minded folks, what’s next? First, it’s important to know who your elected officials are, at the local, state, and federal level. Depending on where you live, you might have lots of officials at the local and state level who decide issues ranging from traffic signals to education, to election procedures, and at the federal level, where we each have two Senators and a Member of the House of Representatives who decide issues including funding for healthcare, regulations for the environment, and oversight over highway safety. So how do we use advocacy to make sure that each of these officials is held accountable? First step, if you are an eligible voter, register to vote in your district and vote in every election. Most areas have a Board of Elections that can assist you with that. Be aware of deadlines that could affect your ability to vote in specific elections. Make it a habit to vote in all elections and primaries, and get to know the candidates. Many areas hold candidate forums where voters can ask questions to become more educated about the issues and the candidate’s positions. Next, now that you know who your elected officials are, it’s time to learn how to contact them and their staffs. Most elected officials have websites that include their office phone numbers as well as email addresses. The websites also often include information about the district and the offi-

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

cial’s voting record, but don’t forget to review reputable news media articles, the website of the body that the official is a member of (i.e. United States Senate, New York State Assembly) or non-partisan organizations that keep track of this information. If you’re ready to contact your elected official, you might be wondering what lobbying is. Photo by Adrienne Tarver Basically, lobbying is when you try to influence any offi“Remember, anyone can be an cial about an issue that you care about to try to convince advocate, which means that anyone them to do something about can lobby their elected official.” it. Lobbyists are not necessarily paid, and their causes and methods vary. Remember, anyone can be an advocate, which means that anyone can lobby their elected official. There are laws that govern lobbying and they are different in every state. If you are working with or for an organization, this might be something you’ll need to pay attention to. There are several ways to contact your official, including by phone, postal mail, email, and in person. The most direct methods include writing an email or letter to send it to him or her. These contacts are important because elected officials keep track of how many pieces of correspondence they receive about specific issues. It is important to state if you are a constituent, and you can even include your address or zip code. Many elected officials will respond to this mail. You can also contact an elected official who does not represent you, especially about an important issue. Be aware that the official might prioritize their own constituents if there is a vote coming up. In general, it’s important to call your elected official about a specific issue if you want to make an impact. Again, you should state your name and where you live, especially if you live within the district, and politely state why you are calling and what you hope the official will do because you called. It is likely that you will speak with an intern or other staff member, and that the conversation will be short, so be prepared to be concise. Again, be polite, but feel free to remind them that they are accountable to voters like you. Ideally, in order to advocate directly to your elected official, you’d like to speak with them in person, which is sometimes challenging, as they are very busy. Calling the official’s office is the simplest first step in trying to meet with them, and speaking with one of their staff members or interns is worth your time. You might be able to make an appointment, but often that appointment will be with a member of the staff, who could be very helpful in getting your message to the official. Once you’ve met with a staff member, you can also follow up with that person in the future, which is a helpful resource. Be ready to keep the message for your meeting clear and

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

concise with a specific request for the elected official. Prepare a one page summary outline that you can leave behind with the staff member so that the elected official can be briefed. You can also prepare a more creative leave behind, but keep in mind that you are visiting an office so plan accordingly. Artistic signs and projects have been used by organizations to support and counter issues, and some of these have in turn been used by elected officials in speeches. Speak with the staff of the elected official about how you might be helpful in using your skills to support or counter a particular issue. Speaking with your elected official is often about opportunity, but sometimes it’s about making your own opportunities. Depending on where you live, you might be able to interact with your elected official on a more regular basis. Some officials publish their schedules, so you might be able to attend an event that they will be appearing at, and where you might have a short chat with them. If so, be prepared for these situations with what is known as an ‘elevator speech.’ An elevator speech is a summary of the issue that you care about that you can deliver in less than two minutes, or the time that it would take an elevator to deliver you from the first to the top floor of a building. You can practice your elevator speech so that you can tell your City Council Member about why you value arts education in public schools the next time he or she is standing in line at the farmer’s market with you. Now that you’ve had conversations with your elected officials and their staff, what else could you be doing? Continue to think like artists and teachers. Think creatively and critically. Ask your friends and family if they are registered to vote and whether they have plans to vote. Ask them what they think about the issues that you care about. Listen to what they say and what they care about. Read, listen, and question the sources of what you hear and read. Write letters to the editor of publications that you read. Read publications that you might not ordinarily read and discuss them with friends and family. Use social media with a critical eye. Expand your horizons as much as possible. Produce art and music and other creations that challenge other people to think creatively and critically. Our founders were very thoughtful to protect both the freedom of speech and the freedom to express our grievances to the government in the first Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. As artists we must remember that we have the right to speak out, speak up, and hold our elected officials accountable, as they work for us and with us. Advocacy is an important part of democracy, a tool that can help us accomplish our goal in improving our government. It’s only by getting involved that we can all have a voice and continue to preserve that voice. Lisa Levy is the Director of Advocacy & Engagement at The Center for Arts Education, with more than a decade of non-profit experience including anti-poverty advocacy and as a legal services attorney. Lisa studied Studio Art and Art History at the State University of New York, Binghamton, and Law at Case Western Reserve University. Social Media:

Photo by Kim Craig

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/centerforartsed/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/centerforartsed Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/centerforartsed/ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/CenterForArtsEdNYC

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

We’ve Got Resources (So many resources!)

Here at Teaching Artists Guild, we are strong believers in the power of individuals to create change. We also know that we are more powerful when we all work together. With that in mind, today we are announcing the launch of the community-powered TEACHING-ARTIST ADVOCACY RESOURCE CENTER on our website. We’ve worked to fill it with many of the most-useful advocacy resources from the field, and it’s only going to get better as time goes on. That’s because at the top of the page is a button that allows you to submit your own resource recommendations (and requests!) So go ahead, check it out, and then use that big ol’ teal button to add your favorite resources!

www.teachingartistsguild.org/advocacy/

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

Resource spotlight: Americans for the Arts Stop right here and take a look. Fabulous source for resources for arts advocacy? Check. Connections to other groups doing this work across the US? Check. Searchable database of trend papers on arts and civic engagement by experts? Oh yep that too. Americans for the Arts is leading all of us in the charge to stop cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts. Their website is so full of resources I’m not even sure where to begin to send you. We’ve culled a few cool pieces here that tickled our fancy, but dig around for yourself! As well, read their statement about creating policy change, near and dear to our hearts:

How Arts Policy Can Impact Your Community Our society at large struggles with many of the same issue that we as arts professionals are already tackling through our arts programs. Professionals across disciplines want to address social, educational, health, and wellness needs to contribute to quality of life. Government officials and local leaders are looking for ways to promote economic prosperity both domestically and internationally. As we address issues facing the arts in our daily work, we also confront broader issues in our society—enhancing creativity, growing the creative workforce, valuing intellectual property rights, adapting to new technologies, or building stronger economic and diplomatic relations in a rapidly changing world. Read more online.

Comedy and Democracy: The Role of Humor in Social Justice Authors: Nancy Goldman, Ed.D.

Publication Date: November 27, 2013

In this paper, Nancy Goldman explores what is humor, what is funny, and the power of using humor in areas of social justice. America’s most popular humorists, including Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain, have a long tradition of critiquing the dominant forces in society and ridiculing those in power. Read more... Corporate Social Responsibility & the Arts Corporate Social Responsibility & the Arts brings into relief the current landscape of corporate support for arts and culture--one in which more corporations are focusing strategically on issues that align with their business interests and have a positive social impact on their employees, their consumers, and/or the communities in which they do business. Read more...

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

Pegi Deitz Shea INTERVIEW BY KATE BELL How long have you been a Teaching Artist? What organizations do you work for? I began leading writing workshops with school children beginning in 1992. In 1995, I began teaching with the Institute of Children’s Literature. It began as an old-fashioned correspondence course, but now is online. My students were mostly adults—teachers taking it for Continuing Education Units, undergraduates (from ages fourteen to ninety-four!) taking it for six college credits, or people who have always wanted to try writing children’s books. In 2007, I began teaching Children’s Literature at the University of Connecticut, and pioneered ENG-3711, “Creative Writing for Child and Young Adult Readers,” in 2010. While I designed that Page 18


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

course to teach every format (board book, poetry, picture book, nonfiction, all the way up to a novel), I also now teach a six-week course at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, where adult students can work on whatever project they want. That’s a lot of fun—roughly eight students, one night a week. At the end, we celebrate at a local pub. What are your current or most recent teaching projects? I am currently teaching all of the above. I really enjoy doing poetry or fiction workshops with school kids, specifically tying the writing to current events or to their current social studies unit. We’ve worked on poems about the Holocaust, slavery, immigrants, and refugees. Many of my books have human rights themes—including a focus on refugees and immigrants—and those workshops are in demand right now. I’ve been working with a refugee agency in Connecticut and with the Syrian artist Mohamad Hafez (Google him!) to do workshops with new arrivals and to have the kids write and draw the illustrations for a children’s book, but the families are understandably very frightened. We had to put the project on a back burner until the political situation cools down, and the families can stabilize. These are families who have been in the vetting process for more than two years! In 1989, I visited a camp in Thailand, and some of the refugees there had been in the camps since the end of our involvement in Southeast Asia (1975). So I am very passionate about, and have written widely, on refugees and immigrants. What’s the most memorable moment teaching you’ve had recently? Just today! I teach my University of Connecticut course at the main campus (Storrs) in the fall and at the Hartford regional campus—which has a lovely diverse population—in the spring. My students are on the nonfiction picture book unit. One student who told me she grew up “in the system” (serial foster-care placements) asked if she could write about it. Reading her assignment today brought me to tears. She wrote it from the authentic point of view of a six-year-old girl who had been abandoned. The simple, plaintive voice blew me away. After I dried my eyes, I then had

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

to get to work! A writer of picture books has fourteen two-page spreads to fill, with a beginning, middle, and end (even in nonfiction). Her beginning and ending were strong. However, she needed to combine some spreads that didn’t have enough visual potential, and create new spreads to fill up the middle. So I asked her to pull out more details about her foster-care life—dealings with foster siblings, with bullying, etc. I can’t wait to see the final product, and to help her sell it to a publisher. I’m “ferrying” the work of two students from last semester to editors right now, too. It’s exciting to come across such unique and powerful work. What other creative projects of your own are you working on right now? Oh, I always have three or four things going on! I’m marketing two different young-adult novels, writing and publishing poetry for adults (which is how I began my career in college), writing my first novel for adults, and launching a poetry-reading series in my town of Vernon, CT. I also have my first photography exhibit coming up in March, and two featured-poet readings in the next six months. How do you find balance between your teaching and other creative work? What systems or strategies do you have for balancing the many things that you do? What’s “balance”? Don’t think I ever heard that word before! Actually working on several writing projects at a time helps. I can work on a poem if I only have two hours that day. I try to set aside at least one whole day per week to work on my novel. I need that deep plunge and total solitude to get into, and stay in, the heads of my characters. Marketing chores can be done at night, when my writing brain is totally empty. I think the mix of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as the photography is healthy for my creativity. I get story ideas from nonfiction research, and my poetic sensibil-

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

ity helps me make my prose more beautiful. With photography, I love getting as close as possible to an object and further enlarging it until the image becomes something else. Writing poetry is like that too—looking for the metaphors in the obvious. Describe the overlap between your teaching work and your creative work. When I teach, I draw upon the creative and practical lessons I’ve learned from being a professional writer since 1982. Out of college, I wrote for the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey. I learned how to research, interview, write to word count, write under deadline, work with an editor, and revise. I worked in public relations and advertising in New York, and had to please clients. I learned to market the books I wrote. I’m still learning that, because the media keeps morphing! I pass along what I learn at conferences to my students—one tidbit being that editors stop reading a manuscript after one typo or grammatical error. That’s how professional writers must be. When teaching, I can show examples, say, of revision, by sharing my early drafts with the finished books and discussing how a text improves with revision. How does the teaching inform my writing? I’m constantly surprised and liberated by what my students come up with—fresh angles on topics both old and new, fresh ways of phrasing, innovative metaphors. They push me to keep relevant and flexible, and to be more daring, especially in my poetry. Do the organizations you work for actively support and encourage the connections between your teaching practice and your creative practice? Not really. The Connecticut Commission on the Arts offers lots of opportunities for State Teaching Artists to improve our teaching. And University of Connecticut sponsors seminars on teaching. But it’s really up to me to seek ways to improve my writing, and I have always done that. This year marks my thirtieth anniversary with the same weekly writing group that works on children’s literature. I belong to the Connecticut Poetry Society which has critique groups I attend, and I meet individually with poet friends to work on poems. I attend at least one poetry event per week to keep my

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ear tuned and to learn from others. I’m a longtime member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and attend their conferences—and even ran the New England chapter conference years ago. I frequently am a presenter at the New England conference. I’m only an adjunct teacher at the University of Connecticut so I don’t get sabbaticals and can’t apply for grants. That’s a bummer. I need a grant writer. Know anybody? Has the shift in the political climate of our country had an impact on your teaching artistry, and if so, how? And do you have any advice/ideas for advocating for our work and/or for our students in the present political climate? I discussed earlier my writing workshops on current events, and my poetry and children’s books continue to address social justice and human rights. The trick is how to make the language powerful yet beautiful, inspiring without preaching. And that’s where poetic techniques—old as the hills—come in, especially when writing prose and nonfiction. Writers have to create works that are beautiful both on the page and when hitting people’s ears. So I encourage others to blast out those opinions and emotions onto the page, but then step back, dance around them, sculpt them into memorable works of art that will last in people’s minds and hopefully inspire them to work for the common good. As for advice: “now” presents a relatively unique opportunity—and many reasons—for students to mobilize behind issues, however they feel on the issues. The Trump administration is returning a lot of jurisdiction to the states, for better or worse. One example, just yesterday, came through the education secretary: leave it up to the states and municipalities how to deal with transgendered people using bathrooms and locker rooms. It is actually easier for individuals to rally on the local and state levels to affect change. What is one person or one group to the federal government? Usually, peanuts. But an activist group of teens protesting at a local Board of Education or town council meeting can have a larger impact. They can immediately see the result of their efforts and, hopefully, become engaged in government for life. The cliché, “politics is local,” will ring much truer in the next four years. If you could change one thing about your life as a Teaching Art-

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ist, what would it be? I’m not the first or the last one to say this but, honestly, artists should be able to make a living wage. I’m fortunate that my husband has work that he loves, work in higher education that has supplied our family with medical benefits and a middle-of-themiddle class life. I made good money in the 80’s and 90’s writing PR and advertising that had little artistic value. With my experience, publications, and awards, I would like to make enough to support myself, if only to cut down on my anxiety. But life is full of choices. I love what I do, I love a life of creativity and ideas, and I love the people I have met through teaching and art. For that, I’m eternally grateful. Offer any plugs for upcoming teaching/creative projects of your own or of people you admire. The art exhibit, “Depth of Field: Photographs and Fabrics,” featuring my photography and the textile art of Margaret Plaganis (also a Connecticut State Teaching Artist) runs through March at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church’s Drew Hall in Hartford. The poetry series I’m launching, “Poetry Rocks!”, will feature Connecticut Poet Laureate, Rennie McQuilkin, and Joan Seliger Sidney, on Sunday, May 7, 2-4pm at ArtsCenterEast in Vernon, CT. I will be a featured poet with Jeff Mock on April 9, at the Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Ave in Hartford. For more information about any of these events, I can be reached at pegideitzshea@ aol.com. For information about my children’s books and writing workshops, go to www.pegideitzshea.com. Kate Bell is a writer, theater maker, musician, and Teaching Artist in Brooklyn, NY. Kate seeks to understand the field of Teaching Artistry more deeply through her “I Interview Teaching Artists” series, which is featured in the TAG Quarterly, and on her blog: www.katebell.info. Page 23


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

Bay Area Teaching Artists and Educators Address White Racial Literacy It’s Tuesday night in downtown Oakland and the large windows in front of the one-story office building on the corner of Telegraph and 23rd are lit up from the inside. Behind the colorful posters of local young poets taped to the glass, a group of people sit in chairs, forming a circle. A large, yellow banner above the window reads “The Department of Make Believe.” This scene marks the home of downtown Oakland arts organization Chapter 510 and the site of a monthly gathering of educators focused on addressing white racial literacy. These teaching artists, classroom teachers and administrators have come from Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin to build their white racial literacy. Informed by Robin DiAngelo’s book “What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy”, the group that calls itself White Educators for Racial Justice or WERJ is focused on a variety of issues related to white racial literacy such as investigating race as a social construct, countering notions of goodness, individualism and colorblindness; and understanding the legacy of racial segregation in schools and communities.

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“We believe it is important that we (white people) take responsibility for this education ourselves, so that our colleagues of color are not put into positions where they have to educate us (white people) about racism and oppression,” the group’s website states. Led by local educators Derek Fenner, Jessa Brie Moreno, and Susan Wolf, the WERJ group originated as a conversation in Fenner’s living room. “Basically, we were a small group of white faculty from the Integrated Learning Specialist Program who wanted to improve our classes,” says Fenner. The Integrated Learning Specialist Program (ILSP) at the Alameda County Office of Education leads professional development courses for classroom teachers and teaching artists that connect the arts with culturally responsive teaching. Fenner and his collaborators wanted to facilitate more conversations around racial justice and educational equity with the multi-racial teachers with whom they worked. They saw the potential impact that these dialogues could have for the not only the teachers, but


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

their students as well. “For white educators in classrooms of predominantly youth of color,” Fenner adds, “this work [also] provides a foundation for holding conversations about racism that validate the lived experience of their students, and supports art making to expand such dialogue and action.” From Fenner’s living room, the group grew to include other white-identified ILSP faculty. They started an ongoing reading discussion focused DiAngelo’s book and Christopher Emdin’s “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y’All Too: Racial Pedagogy and Urban Education”. Soon after the election, the facilitators fielded requests to open up the group to a broader community of educators. This past January, the group opened the meeting to the general public and experienced a surge of over 50 newcomers to the group.

Incorporating the arts has been a key component of the meetings. In a recent meeting, smaller group breakouts or “unconferences” focused on creating a reading list, having conversations about power dynamics between white teachers and students of color, and sharing arts-based activities. In one group Todd Berman, Director of the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area, used an activity he had taught with justice involved youth called Behind the Mask. He had the small cluster of educators draw a portrait of themselves as others see them. On the reverse side of their drawings, they included the aspects of themselves that other people couldn’t see: “I spend most of my time with other white people”, “I want to use my voice but I don’t want to be louder than you”, or “Making mistakes is hard but I want to work on my vulnerability”. At their most recent meeting, the group engaged in a story circle, a practice based in the

Jessa Brie Moreno (center) in dialogue at a recent White Educators for Racial Justice Meeting at Chapter 510 in Oakland.

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work of actress Anne Deavere Smith who has used documentary theater to address larger societal issues including the school to prison pipeline and the 1992 LA Riots. Each person in the circle had two minutes to share a story based on the prompt word of injustice. At the

to profit off of everyday. I’m not sure of what to do with that.”

end of the two minutes, the rest of the group responded back with quotes they remembered the person had said while pantomiming the gestures that the person used while saying those words. Rachel Fryke, a teacher at a local private school in Berkeley, spoke about the Gill Tract farm in Albany and the relationship between land and local indigenous people who had historically lived and farmed on it.

her story: her hands sweeping together to embody the word “topsoil” or the rise of her shoulders coupled with the phrase “not sure what to do with that”. At the end of the meeting Fryke encompassed the experience succinctly: “Learning is slow...and vulnerable.”

“I felt aware of being on occupied land. That the losing of topsoil is connected to the losing of home. It’s this feeling of loss that I get

“We see it not as a training,” he says, “because often with trainings people check the box and think they’re done growing. People

Reverse side of Todd Berman’s Behind the Mask arts activity

At the end of her storytelling, people repeated phrases they remembered while using gestures she had made during the telling of

February White Educators for Racial Justice meeting

Todd Berman’s uses Behind the Mask arts activity at the

Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

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Derek Fenner is quick to point out that the White Educators for Racial Justice meeting is not a workshop.


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 07

To learn more about White Educators for Racial Justice visit their website or Facebook Group.

Reverse side of a participant’s drawing for Todd Berman’s Behind the Mask arts activity

Participant’s drawing for Todd Berman’s Behind the Mask arts activity at the February White Educators for Racial Justice meeting.

don’t often set aside time for things that make them feel uncomfortable like talking about race or white privilege. We know this and wanted a place for people to come to where you can remind yourself that you’re not done. There’s still more work to do.”

Indi McCasey believes that art can be a catalyst for social change. Indi has taught for over 20 years and holds an Ed.M from Harvard. Indi is the Director of Creative Learning at Destiny Arts Center and leads workshops through the Integrated Learning Specialist Program and Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom. Connect with Indi: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram: @indiflyer

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Ways to Advocate for Your Program by Caryn Cooper

One of the most valuable skills you can have as an artist working in a school, is the ability to effectively advocate for your program. The students you work with may understand, and even value of arts in the curriculum, but what about the principal, the teachers, or the parents? Yes there are plenty of laws- such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), various learning standards in place- like the National Core Arts Standards, and research that all support the inclusion of arts education, but it does not necessarily make it a priority for each individual school environment. How can we as artists, educators, and supporters articulate the importance and value of our arts programs in a particular school? How can we effectively advocate for arts education to teachers, parents, and school administrators? Here are five things I have learned to keep mind when advocating for an arts education program:

1. Align your goals with the school’s mission Every school has a number of goals they want students to accomplish. These can be things such as respect, leadership, develop innovative thinkers, etc. Take note of those goals as they tend to set the tone and culture of the school. It will show you what the principal, teachers, and other school administrators value in a child’s education. What you are offering may not be a good fit for that

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particular school. Don’t try to force the work you do, to a school. Rather, think thoughtfully about how your arts program further enhances the school’s mission. Look for points of intersection where your program will be a natural fit.

2. Craft a compelling case When coming up with a case for your arts program, to make it compelling, you should go in with some hard-hitting facts and data (the meat and potatoes). You can gather this information from new research reports, staying up to date with current trends and policies directly affecting the arts and/or education, and having a knowledge of local, state, and national learning standards. This will help support your program and advocate for the work that you do. This information can be collected (for free in most cases) from any arts and/or education service organizations on their website.

3. Request the ask Think about who you are speaking to (parents, a principal), and what you are looking for them to provide. Is it funding? Is it space (space to effectively work or store your supplies)? Is it support? Or all of the above? Whatever it is, know what you are asking for. Sometimes we want to spend a lot of time talking about what we want, but most principals don’t have the time to listen. You may be having this conversation in the hallway as you’re going from one place to another, or you have only a few minutes before they have to run off to their next appointment. Plan ahead and know what your end result to be beforehand.

4. Have a success story A successful story, should be personal, true and heartfelt. As much as the data is important, your story is what will change/ open a person’s mind. It can be about a transformation a student had, how a child overcame a particular challenge, or what a group of students were able to accomplish as a result of an arts program. It can also be about how the arts had an impact on your life as a child. Either way, it is very important to include in your advocacy plan. Page 29


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5. Keep the communication lines open Look for ways to get and keep principals, teachers, and parents involved throughout the artistic process. Is there an in-class showing you can invite the principal to? Will you have a culminating performance or exhibition where you can invite the parents? Do you have artwork or writings by students that you can display in the school for other teachers to see? Don’t just reach out to complain or report when something is wrong. Keep them involved as much as possible. Even if they are unable to make it, the invitation shows that you care and thought of them. Finally, I want to encourage you to never give up. It can be difficult and frustrating at times when people don’t appreciate or value the work you do. But, don’t get so hung up on the little setbacks. Always remind yourself of why you are passionate about the arts and why you believe the arts should be in schools. Be persistent and don’t give up. Remember change happens little by little over time. With slight modifications depending on the school and its particular setting, these five points can help advance and support you when advocating for your arts program.

Caryn Cooper is an arts administrator, educator, and writer from New York. She has trained in ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), teaches dance under the direction of Dr. Martha Eddy- Moving for Life, and works as the Education Coordinator at Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts.

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

TAG Quarterly Issue 08 is sponsored in part by:

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

Local and state legislation: What can we do right? by Jean Johnstone, TAG Executive Director Following a national uptick in involvement in policy concerns and advocacy, a focus on “getting it right” at the local and state level is swelling. As fears that the Trump administration will cut access to education, healthcare, and the arts, among other pressing concerns, are increasingly realized, individuals are making their way to town halls and school gyms to both protest and build afresh.

TAG attended the California Alliance for Arts Education policy council meeting in February to discuss how to use state legislation to ensure all students receive quality arts education. Several bills were discussed: one recently passed: SB 916 (Allen) the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA!) and one proposed, AB 37 (O’Donnell), related to Media Arts. Additionally, SB 777, which was submitted by Ca State Senator Ben Allen, with an eye towards compliance with education code language related to arts education.

SB 916 (Allen), The Theatre and Dance Act, establishes single-subject teaching credentials in dance and theatre. Since 1970, when dance and theatre credentials were eliminated by what some say was a typo in the Ryan Act (reducing “music and arts” to “music and art,” which lawmakers interpreted as visual art), teachers could only teach dance after obtaining a credential in Physical Education, and an English credential to teach theatre. Twice, legislative efforts to create these credentials were vetoed by the governor. However, 2016 was different. Due in great part to the dedicated work of Joe Landon and California Alliance for Arts Education and its many allies, SB 916 made it through both houses of the legislature without a negative vote. It even garnered the support of the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers. The CTA

“The task now is to build strong systems for teacher education in this subject matter for these new credentials, and teaching artists can help”

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had previously been in opposition to the bill. The task now is to build strong systems for teacher education in this subject matter for these new credentials, and teaching artists can help. TAG recommends building relationships and pathways with teacher credentialing programs, who must employ master teaching artists as part of the team educating would-be credentialed teachers. We must also create strong ties to credentialed arts teachers’ support and advocacy organizations in general. We stand together on the importance of arts education in schools, and we need to make clear that we support their work, at a time when shrinking budgets endanger jobs. On this we cannot be divided or played against each other. What role do teaching artists have in this expanded world of further credentials? The same as in any other state (many offer credentials in 4 arts subjects; California was an outlier), and part of the three legged stool: those legs being credentialed arts teachers, arts integration, and teaching artists. Sometimes it’s called a 4 legged stool, and broken out a little bit more: credentialed teachers, arts integration, teaching artists in school, and arts experiences, such as a visit to a working artist’s studio, a trip to the ballet, etc. We say, the more legs it has, the sturdier a seat it makes! But defining how these “legs” interact when money is on the line, and how they work together in all circumstances, is crucial. Think of it as a three-legged race! AB 37 (O’Donnell), the Media Arts bill, adds Media Arts as a discrete arts subject, in addition to the standard four: visual arts, theater, dance, and music. A panel including a Deputy Superintendent from the California Department of Education (the bill’s sponsor), a consultant from the office of Assemblyman O’Donnell (the bill’s author), the president of the California Art Education Association, and a media arts teacher from Los Angeles Unified School District, offered their perspectives on the significance of the legislation. TAG’s questions, while in favor of adding arts subject matters, is whether we have a clear definition of Media Arts and what it entails, and whether and how it bridges the role of Career Technical Education; and the role of Media Literacy in education at large. We posit that these questions should be carefully thought through and taken into account. Following the meeting, the Committee on Legislation of the California Alliance voted to support the bill and a letter has been sent to the author’s office recording that support. A period of time was set aside for members of the Council to discuss their recommendations Page 33


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with education code language related to arts education. How do we move the current system towards true compliance? Priorities and strategies emerged from the various perspectives of Policy Council members. More questions emerged, too: How might the LCAP be more formalized to provide a section that includes addressing education code requirements related to arts education? How do we define compliance? How much arts education is “enough”? What role does professional development play in fulfilling the requirements of compliance? What role does assessment play as we articulate the requirements of compliance? In short, we have our work cut out for us.

How are issues of arts education playing out in your state or city at the policy level? Where can you get involved? Let us know your thoughts. Jean Johnstone is the Executive Director of Teaching Artists Guild and the founding Executive Director of the Applied Theater Action Institute, a non-profit that offers innovative community programs both in the SF Bay Area and internationally, and is on the advisory council for TASC of California. Jean studied at The Moscow Art Theater in Russia. She spent several years teaching drama and applied theater, and directing new work in Hong Kong, China, at the Hong Kong University Graduate Association College, and was a delegate at the IDEA International Arts Education congress. She has created and implemented curricula for several year-long drama courses for hundreds of students, taught workshops for teachers on using Drama in Education, and facilitated the creation of original theater pieces by young people on topics that mattered to them most, including the 2008 Best Script award-winner from the EMI Drama Festival, on the topic of global warming, and works about the migration of Chinese in 1947-49. For the last several years she has directed productions at SFJazz by formerly homeless artists, pairing them with local artistic mentors. She also served for four years as the theatrical director for the David Herrera Performance Company of San Francisco, a modern dance/theater company focusing on works related to the Latino Diaspora, and continues to advise them. Previously she was an artistic director of The Red Gate Performance Collective’s Rococo Risque Cabaret (Best Theatre Ensemble SF Weekly 2005). She was a founding member of the Million Fishes Art Collective in San Francisco, and a Theater Arts Resident at the San Francisco Arts Education Project. She holds a Post-Graduate certificate in Theater Arts from University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as a B.A. in Theater Arts from UCSC, and certificates from the Moscow Art Theater and Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

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Being an artist makes advocacy and activism easy. Right?? You have so many tools at your disposal! You are a creator, a storyteller! Whatever your position on an issue, artists make that ‘citizenship as a full time job’ thing look pretty spiffy. Put your skills, talents, and any latent creative energy to use to activate in your community. The options are endless. In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King talks about his disappointment with the white moderate, “who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice”. With this premise in mind, four artists juggling two children and a baby sat down for a few hours of brainstorming and script writing over snacks on a recent Saturday. The following Saturday, they shot this short satire about political complacency, edited it, and posted it. Voila. Arts activism for fun! What are you up to? Send us your efforts! -Jean

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO WATCH THE VIDEO

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An Art and Social Justice Symposium was hosted by the nonprofit Reel Girls on March 9th and 10th. The event was free to the public and featured speakers such as afrose fatima ahmed, Elliat Graney-Saucke, and Joanna Tawfilis. Learn more at http://reelgrrls.org/

Black Choreographers Festival: Here & Now 2017 offers 3 weekends annually of premiers and new voices celebrating African and African American dance, and multi-faceted programming addressing the career needs of artists and teaching artists. http://www.bcfhereandnow.com/

Ingenuity, Inc. in Chicago, IL, is Your Program Results & Asses nar will explore questions like H of our programs? How do we te learnings to stakeholders, and planning and teaching artist de

San Diego County has launched ART=OPPORTUNITY, a new initiative to improve literacy through the arts through training, residencies, summits and workshops for arts providers, educators, parents and students. http://www.csusm.edu/artopp/

REGIONAL UPDATE MAP Hello Teaching Artists! In an effort to make our regional updates more accessible, and more... up-to-date, we are expanding this column online as an interactive Google Map.

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Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

Face to Face 2017 Conference - April 12 & 13

The only event of its kind in NYC and the largest in the state, Face to Face is a professional development conference for arts administrators, teaching artists, and others interested in the field of arts in education

s hosting a webinar on Translating ssments on April 11. The webiHow do we measure the success ell the story of our success and use our data to inform future evelopment?

Arts Advocacy Day - March 19th & 20th, Washington D.C. and across the United States. Over 700 cultural leaders gather in D.C. to meet with their representatives and make the case for federal funding for the arts. Learn more at americansforthearts.org

Simply visit www.teachingartistsguild.org/update-map/ to and click on the map markers for each issue to explore the updates for that particular region. It is my hope that this online format will make the information easier to digest and to share, and that it will be easier for our contributors to keep you up-to-date more often. If you know of an important update from your region, please, share it with us! You can become a regional update partner by writing in to us at kenny@teachingartistsguild.org All My Best, Kenny Allen, Membership Director, Teaching Artists Guild Page 35


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

Mesmerizing Beauty: The “Oceans and Seas” Creative Writing Project at the Hospital by Daniel Godston

Introduction “Oceans and Seas” is the title of a creative writing project I facilitated, which provided opportunities for hospitalized children and teens to write poems in response to materials that pertain to oceans and seas. At the time I was a teaching artist at Snow City Arts Foundation, at Rush Children’s Hospital in Chicago. The inspiration from “Oceans and Seas” came from several sources. First, the interior of the Pediatric Unit at Rush Children’s Hospital has an aquatic life theme: murals of ocean life have been painted on several walls, and a likeness of a crab and other sea creatures are part of the linoleum floor pattern in the corridors and hospital rooms. Second, being hospitalized can be a difficult and stressful time for the patients and their families; educators and other people who work with hospitalized people often strive to engage those individuals with fun, imaginative, and intellectually stimulating projects. (Sometimes people dream about leaving a place where they have to be, yet don’t want to be—they might dream about going home, and they might fantasize about embarking on imaginary journeys to faraway, exotic places such as outer space or tropical islands.) Third, I had seen a film by Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy which is entitled Lobsters, and the quirky images in that documentary about the lobster industry in Sussex, England were inspiring. The teaching artists at Snow City Arts Foundation are encouraged to develop original arts education curriculum, so hospitalized children and teens with which those teaching artists work can master Illinois Learning Standards—while engaging in activities which culminate in the creation of poems, paintings, films, songs, theatrical productions, and other kinds of arts projects. As part of “Oceans and Seas,” I facilitated creative writing workshops during which hospitalized kids wrote poems in response to Blaise Cendrars’ poems about his travels by ocean liner, poems by Eugenio Montale which meditate on the Mediterranean Sea, an excerpt from Samuel Coleridge’s epic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” a clip from Jacques Cousteau’s film The Silent World, the trailer for Werner Herzog’s film Encounters at the End of the World, and other materials.

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Crochet Seahorses and Whales Longer Than My Submarine: Diving off Springboards of Artwork Several kids I worked with wrote poems inspired by artwork which contain images of oceans and marine life, such as Winslow Homer’s watercolor entitled The Water Fan, Romare Bearden’s collage entitled Home to Ithaca, Joseph Yoakum’s colored pencil and ballpoint pen illustration entitled Mount Elarus in Caucasus Mountain Range, Between Black Sea and Caspian Sea in USSR, and the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. Recently I saw the traveling exhibition The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project when it was at the Chicago Cultural Center. The HCCRP website states that it is “a project that resides at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft and community art practice. The project responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash.” I showed images of HCCRP to several hospitalized kids I worked with. Osaze (age 10) wrote this poem, in which she imagines a crochet coral reef being created at her school—

The Crochet Coral Reef at My School My grandma likes to crochet. She’s really good at crocheting. She crochets blankets and other things. Mrs. Baijt, my Home Room teacher, made a crochet coral reef all by herself. It took her one month to complete it. It’s purple and orange, and it’s the length of a football field. Now it’s in the Science Lab at my school, St. Mary in Park Forest. It’s been there for a month. A team of five St. Mary teachers helped Mrs. Baijt install her crochet coral reef—Mrs. Rodenberg, Ms. Nagra, Mrs. Cepela, and Mrs. Seper. There are ten turquoise blue crochet dolphins by the crochet coral reef, and there are 20 black and white crochet Orcas and two brown crochet seahorses by Mrs. Baijt’s crochet coral reef too.

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As Osaze wrote a poem inspired by a crochet art installation, Anthony (age 10), wrote a poem inspired by a watercolor painting. Anthony and I looked at a reproduction of The Water Fan, a watercolor by Winslow Homer, and then he wrote a poem entitled “Me and My Submarine,” in which he’d built a blue steel submarine “that’s 25 feet long and 20 feet deep”—“Whales are longer than my submarine,” and “If I saw a man in a rowboat, / I’d save him and let him into my submarine. / My submarine is going to Mexico to explore everything.” “A Constant Blue with a Deep-Sea Transparency”: Poems Inspired by Other Poems Some kids I worked with wrote poems inspired by poems they read which contain ocean and sea imagery, such as those by Blaise Cendrars, Pablo Neruda, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Walt Whitman, Rita Dove, Jorge Luis Borges, Homer, Patiann Rogers, Fernando Pessoa, and Eugenio Montale. For instance, Guadalupe (age 13) and I read “El Océano,” a poem by the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Then Guadalupe wrote “El Mesmorizante Océano”—

El océano es infinito. It goes forever. It awakens your true self, tus pensamientos flotan como una pluma en el áire. The ocean’s unconsumed beauty is endless. When you look at the ocean, it takes away stress. Its waves, currents, and strength— La potencia del océano es relagánte. You gaze upon the mesmerizing beauty, hypnotized by la pureza del océano. (The italicized words were taken from Neruda’s “El Océano”). Like Pablo Neruda, Walt Whitman is another great poet who has provided inspiration for young hospitalized kids. Margarita and I read a section of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass which focuses on marine life. She particularly gravitated toward the lines, “The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, / the hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray.” Then she wrote a poem entitled “Animals Under the Sea,” in which she imagines encounters with marine animals—“If I saw a shark I’d say, ‘Go away.’ / If I saw a jellyfish I’d say, ‘Don’t sting me,’” and “If I saw a stingray I’d say, ‘Hello,’ / and give it a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. / If I saw a walrus I’d say, ‘What’s your name? Why do you have a mustache?’ / If I saw a manatee, I’d say, ‘Hello, what are you doing here?’ / If I saw a sea turtle I would say, ‘How are you doing?’”

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As Neruda’s “El Mesmorizante Océano” explores the epic grandeur of the ocean, and


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

Whitman’s excerpt from Leaves of Grass zeroes in on several marine animals, Blaise Cendrars’ “Along the Coast of Portugal” teems with scintillating language of specific images found in that location. Deisy (age 17) and I read several poems by Cendrars, including “Along the Coast of Portugal,” which include lines such as “From Le Havre all we’ve done is follow the coastline like ancient navigators / The sea off Portugal is covered with boats and trawlers / It’s a constant blue with a deep-sea transparency,” and “Innumerable green microscopic algae float on the surface / They manufacture food that allows them to multiply quickly / They are the inexhaustible provender that the legion of infusoria and delicate marine larvae stream toward / All sorts of animals / Worms starfish sea urchins / Tiny crustaceans / Seething little world near the surface of the water shot through with light.” Then Deisy wrote a poem entitled “My Trip to Puerto Vallarta,” in which she writes, “I’m going to Puerto Vallarta, / to Puerto Vallarta with my family, my mom, / my dad, my sister, my brother, and me, / to Puerto Vallarta to go to the beach and get a suntan there, / to hear a Mariachi band on the beach…” Later in the poem she writes, “to Puerto Vallarta to go swimming with a dolphin, / but it would be scary. Its skin would feel soft. / When a dolphin sings, it sounds like it’s whistling. / My mom said she wants to swim with a dolphin, / but she’s never done that before.” (When Deisy said she wanted to include an image about riding a dolphin, we did some research on the internet, and she listened to a .wav audio file of a dolphin making sound; her observation of that sound informed her decision to use the clause “it sounds like it’s whistling.”) “Megaladon, O Megaladon”: Dinosaur Obsessions Children are fascinated with dinosaurs, and several kids I worked with wrote poems inspired by marine dinosaurs. Marianna (age 8) and I read and talked about an ode by Pablo Neruda. Then she wrote an ode entitled “Oh Plesiosaur,” in which she writes, “Oh plesiosaur, you look like a seal. / Oh plesiosaur, you have a long neck, but a giraffe’s neck is longer. / Oh plesiosaur, you have four long fins. / Oh plesiosaur, you’re extinct, / but some people believe in the Loch Ness Monster. / Oh plesiosaur, the baby plesiosaur bones look cool.” Emil (age 16) and I watched part of a show called Walking with the Dinosaurs: Sea Monsters which focuses on the megalodon, an ancestor of the shark which dwarfed the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Then Emil wrote “Megalodon, O Megalodon,” in which he writes, “O megalodon, your teeth are as sharp as a T-Rex’s. / I hope you don’t bite me. You have amazing fins. / O megalodon, your jaws are much bigger / than a great white shark’s jaws. / O megalodon, don’t get mad at me! I think you stink. / You must be stinky from all the fish you eat. / Don’t get mad at me for saying that!”

Of Oceans and Hospitals: The Silver Squid and Nurse Sharks Several of the poems that hospitalized kids wrote during the “Oceans and Seas” project includes hospital imagery. In her poem “The Ocean Hospital,” Kayla (10 years old) writes about an Ocean

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Hospital “made of pink coral”—“Nurse sharks are the nurses, octopuses take care of the babies, / and penguins staff Child Life Services. Bruce the Great White Shark / is the Ocean Hospital’s Head Brain Surgeon. / Bruce has special fins -- that’s how he can operate. / Sea turtles deliver meals on the tops of their shells,” and “An octopus magician performs magic tricks for the patients. / It can make itself invisible, and it can pull a clam out of a hat. / It performs magic tricks, especially the ‘pick a card, any card’ trick.” Lyndsey (age 11) and I read and discussed an excerpt of Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and she wrote a poem partially inspired by “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in which she imagined that the silver pipes of the ventilation system outside her hospital room window are the tentacles of an enormous silver squid. In her poem “The Silver Squid,” Lyndsey describes the appearance of an old fisherman wearing “a big yellow raincoat” who started to tell his story— “On my sailboat I catch king crabs. The weather was gory, and I was preparing fish chum on the slabs. Higher and higher every day, Till over the mast at noon, I pulled my sailboat into the bay just before I saw the moon. Just then the silver squid appeared, and its eyes were as green as emerald.” Everyone listening to the fisherman’s story feared the squid, and they were appalled. The old fisherman continues his story: “The silver squid jumped out of the water / and dove back into the ocean with a splash.”

Conclusion Throughout history humans have continually been fascinated with water, and oceans and seas have filled people with wonder and awe. People of different professional backgrounds—such as painters, poets, marine biologists, musicians, filmmakers, oceanographers, and collage artists— have strived to articulate and address the awesome power and mystery of oceans and seas. It was amazing for me to witness the creative powers demonstrated by the hospitalized kids with whom I worked—as they learned about poems, looked at visual artworks, and engaged with other materials which pertain to oceans and seas—and then as they wrote poems in response to those materials. Page 40


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References Introduction Snow City Arts Foundation. <http://www.snowcityarts.com>. Lobsters. Directed by László Moholy-Nagy. 1935. <http://www.moholy-nagy.org/SearchResults. asp?Search=lobsters>. Illinois Learning Standards: <http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ils/>. Montale, Eugenio. Collected Poems, 1920-1954. Translated by Jonathan Galassi. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000. Le monde du silence. (The Silent World.) FSJYC Production. Directed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Malle. 1956. <http://www.cousteau.org/media/movies>. Encounters at the End of the World. Discovery Films. Directed by Werner Herzog. 2007. <http:// www.wernerherzog.com/films.html>.

Crochet Seahorses and Whales Longer Than My Submarine: Diving off Springboards of Artwork Homer, Winslow. The Water Fan. Watercolor. 1898/99. < http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/ exhibitions/homer_exhb/artwork/38666>. Yoakum, Joseph. Mount Elarus in Caucasus Mountain Range, Between Black Sea and Caspian Sea in USSR. N.D. Ballpoint pen and colored pencil on wove paper. Gift of Sarah Leonard, Item 2004.53 at the Smart Museum of Art, at the University of Chicago. <http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu>. Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. A project of the Institute of Figuring. <http://crochetcoralreef. org/>.

“A Constant Blue with a Deep-Sea Transparency”: Poems Inspired by Other Poems Verse & Universe: Poems About Science and Mathematics. Edited by Kurt Brown. Minneapolis:

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Milkweed Editions, 1995. Poetry for Young People: Walt Whitman. Edited by Jonathan Levin. Watercolors by Jim Burke. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2008. Cendrars, Blaise. Complete Poems. Translated by Ron Padgett. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. Freesound Website. Recording of dolphins at half-speed, south of Agua Verde in Baja California Sur. <http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=63595>.

“Megaladon, O Megaladon”: Dinosaur Obsessions “The Third Most Dangerous Sea of All Time” episode. Sea Monsters: A Walking with Dinosaurs Trilogy. Narrated by Nigel Marven. Produced by Impossible Pictures, with the British Broadcasting Company. 1999.

Of Oceans and Hospitals: The Silver Squid and Nurse Sharks Coleridge, Samuel. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” <http://www.online-literature.com/ coleridge/646/>.

Daniel Godston teaches and lives in Chicago. His writings have appeared in Chase Park, After Hours, Versal, 580 Split, Kyoto Journal, Eratica, Horse Less Review, Apparatus Magazine, Sentinel Poetry, Teaching Artist Journal, Teachers & Writers Magazine, The English Record, and other publications. His poem “Mask to Skin to Blood to Heart to Bone and Back” was nominated by the editors of 580 Split for the Pushcart Prize. Godston received an award from the Midtown Center for Boys for developing an Intergenerational Literature Program, and he has facilitated workshops for educators at Columbia College Chicago, Snow City Arts Foundation, and the Chicago Public Schools. He also composes and performs music, and he works with the Borderbend Arts Collective to organize the annual Chicago Calling Arts Festival. Contact Information Daniel Godston 15 S. Homan Avenue, # 315 Chicago, IL 60624

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Phone: 312.543.7027 Email: dgodston@gmail.com


Teaching Artists Guild Quarterly: Issue 08

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TAG Quarterly Issue 08  

Teaching Artists Guild is proud to present the third issue of their Quarterly Magazine, the only magazine catering specifically to the needs...

TAG Quarterly Issue 08  

Teaching Artists Guild is proud to present the third issue of their Quarterly Magazine, the only magazine catering specifically to the needs...