Friday, September 23, 2016

Inch One-Hundred Thirty-Seven: Burning Down The House

Today's post is short, and comes from my job.

Several weeks ago, my fabulous coworker Cecelia and I started a new writing program at Juvenile Court. We work with a small group of juveniles (there are four of them in this this first round), giving them themed prompts and encouraging them to write. In any class, there are three to five prompts taped to the wall, and the juveniles may pick and choose as suits them. We then share the writing, discussing issues that come out in the course of the writing.

Did I say we encourage them to write? Encouragement has not been a problem. Sometimes, the issue is getting them to stop writing and share within the 90 minutes we have.

One of the unexpected consequences of facilitating the writing group is that I am writing more. For one thing, the kids expect us to write alongside them and demand that we too share our work. For another, it is impossible to be in a small room with everyone bent over their notebooks, pens and pencils scratching away, and not be moved to put down something. Not every piece I produce is a winner, but occasionally I sit back and think "not bad."

This week's class was about control. One of the prompts was "He was like a forest fire, burning down the excess beauty in the name of control." This is what I wrote in response:

Burning Down The House

Sometimes you just burn it all to the ground.

Sacrifice the curtains and the towels
and the china
and the painting over the couch.

Sit back and watch the show
The sirens coming closer
The flames shooting through the roof
The garden trampled by the firefighters.

Flick the soot off your jeans
and walk away.
Nothing to hold you now.

In the remaining weeks, we will be tackling such topics as goals and overcoming barriers. One of the prompts I hope to use is this one attributed to Mizuta Masahide: Since my house burned down I now own a better view of the rising moon. Seems like an appropriate one for me to write about it light of my piece this week.

I love my job. I love this part of my job even more. And I love that I get to go on writing with Cecelia and an amazing group of young people.


amanda said...

Very cool! Great job- both the writing and the work.

Laurie said...

I've never really felt a call to write, but I sure do love to read the work of others. I so enjoyed reading your words from the prompt, as well as the M. Masahide quote. So good!

Darla said...

Your writing is wonderful. As someone who lost a house and all contents to a fire almost a year ago this hit close to home. It made me catch my breath a bit. Awful as the literal house burning was, there was some freedom created. It took awhile for me to recognize that.