|Author/poet Quraysh Ali Lansana comes to Riverview|
|Written by Submitted by Michael Ward|
|Monday, 11 March 2013 12:52|
“If you have a command of language and an understanding of the written word, there is absolutely nothing you cannot do.”
These words hit home to 8th grade students on Tuesday morning, February 5, when acclaimed author, poet, artist and instructor Quraysh Ali Lansana led a workshop with students in Matt Stewart’s first period language arts class. The workshop served as one of several similar courses that Mr. Lansana led in sessions at both Tolt Middle School and the Riverview Learning Center the week of February 4-8.
Over the course of the hour, Lansana shared details on his background and cited famed poet Gwendolyn Brooks as one of his inspirations. Calling on one of Brooks’ most noted poems, We Real Cool, Lansana read the poem and then turned to seven students to come up and embody a specific line of the work. When the students needed assistance on how to interpret the line, the remaining class served as directors, instructing the students on how to stand, deliver the line, and inhabit the character alluded to in Ms. Brooks’ prose.
Reading from his latest book of poetry, Mystic Surf, Lansana led a conversation about irony and then moved into a longer poem, 71st and King Drive, which offered students a more tangible way with which to share in the creative process. Upon reciting the poem, Lansana engaged students in recognizing elements of alliteration, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia and simile, and then turned the tables around on them.
Under the poet’s direction, students were asked to craft a “Community Awareness Poem” which focused on their respective neighborhoods, identifying smells, sounds, likes and dislikes, and other sensory-related items from where they call home. The sessions made the students in Mr. Stewart’s class think outside the box in terms of more conventional writing and forced students to express their thoughts in new and more expansive ways.
The author of 16 different books, Lansana imparted upon his students that interpreting poetry, along with any form of art, is always left to the individual. Stressing that “there are no wrong answers…all comprehension is valid,” Mr. Stewart’s first-period language arts class and undoubtedly all students who worked with Quraysh Ali Lansana came away with a new perspective on the power of the written word.