A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a feeling of sickness, homesickness, love sickness.
America is only in week two of the stay-at-home phase of coronavirus mitigation, and we’ve been inundated with tips and videos on the ‘fun’ and ‘educational’ things families do. can do together after the children’s homework is finished. A viewer spoke on behalf of millions of tired parents across the country when she tweeted to Jimmy Fallon from “The Tonight Show” that she was already considering kicking her kids out of homeschool.
She was facetious, of course, but her point is correct: Families need constructive ways to cope with angst and loneliness.
“We are now officially in a pandemic”, says Eric Klinenberg, New York University sociologist, specialist in social isolation. “But we have also entered a new period of social suffering. There is going to be a level of social suffering related to the isolation and the cost of social distancing that very few people discuss yet. “
One of the best ways to deal with anxiety – whether it’s your own or society’s anxiety – is to write a poem about it. It’s probably been a while since you’ve tried poetry. For me it was 10e school year, when a certain girl refused my invitation to a ball. I released my heartache in meter and rhyme. It wasn’t very good (okay, it stank), but it made me feel better.
Even if you don’t have a volume of William Butler Yeats Where Langston hughes on your bedside table – even if you don’t know sonnet of haiku – you can encourage your children to try to deal with their emotions by reading and writing poetry. And maybe you are trying yourself between answering your boss’s emails and watching CNN where your hope for good news remains unanswered.
Need help to start this story of poetry? Check out the website of one of my favorite charities, DC SCORES, a group that provides at-risk children in the Washington, DC area with after-school football and academic enrichment opportunities. One of those opportunities is for children to immerse themselves in the joys of poetry, which many of them, not surprisingly, resist. So the way to persuade children to engage in poetry is to condition football matches on it. No study of poetry and “slams”, no training or football game.
Now, given the isolation of the coronavirus, DC SCORES has taken its poetry initiative into the digital world. Here’s how DC SCORES gives children and their families an outlet for poetry during The Big Pause (which sounds poetic, doesn’t it?).
In his new initiative, #SCORESatHome, DC SCORES will upload new content daily – interactive drills related to the core elements of its football and poetry curriculum, video tips from SCORES coaches and live online program sessions – to continue its mission of providing a team of support for every DC child who needs one. DC SCORES also partners with local businesses and celebrities, including a soccer star Joanna lohman, to start the #AtHomePoetryChallenge, where kids and adults can write and share their poems with the Twitterverse.
Coming soon: an online poetry slam, featuring children, alumni and professional spoken word artists from DC SCORES. SCORES even offers content viewing: it featured in a recent documentary film, which parents and kids can add to their streaming queues.
Do you want more information? Contact America SCORES Content Manager and DC SCORES Communications Director Michael Holstein.
What will happen to your family’s poetic collaboration? Now, maybe if you’ve got a prodigy in the house, something like that.
A young woman named A’dora Willis, who is now studying at Bowie State University in Maryland to become a nurse practitioner, was, during her middle and high school days, one of DC’s poetry slam champions. SCORES.
Composed years before anyone had heard of COVID-19, here is the opening stanza to A’dora’s award-winning poem, “Our Words, Our City.”
Sometimes I wish I could go back. Moonwalk this yellow brick road. Go back in time and become a child again because
It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I can’t sink Uh uh uh under.
Many of us who go through The Big Pause wonder how we’re going to avoid sinking Uh uh uh. Maybe if we approach our fears with poetry, it will help those close to us to stay afloat.
Robert Frost, meet A’dora Willis. Let’s go through this all together.
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Richard Levick, Esq., @Richardlevick, is Chairman and CEO of LEVICK. He is a frequent commentator on television, radio, online and in print media.