Komplex's third and final visit was today, and I was blown away by several of the poems my kids shared. One was called "The Next Great Black", wondering where the next MLK could be hiding. It was inspired by our class conversations on the Letter from Birmingham and "Beyond Vietnam". A second student read a poem about past pain and the reality that here, locked up, is not where he wants to spend the rest of his life. I hadn't heard either of these poems before (apparently they wrote them in math class *sigh*) but I was amazed by the coherence, voice and images. I wish more students had shared, but I wasn't about to force anyone, and I think it's especially intimidating to share your work with a professional hip-hop poet whose work is so strong.
I have been building on KOM's presentations to impress on my students that they already know a lot of what in previous English classes may have seemed so removed or obscure--alliteration, metaphor, plays on words, rhyme, rhythm, this is what poems and hip hop are both made of. They already know it! It's just a matter of, as I said to them, realizing you already know it. Their reaction to his presentation convinced me that more slam poetry and creating a class book (even if it's "just" online) is the way to go. Publishing is the most powerful experience I think a writer can have.