22 November 2005
Rice Hall 11
Oberlin, OH 44074
To Whom It May Concern:
I met Paul Nelson in the fall of 2004, when we were among the artists in residence at Centrum. Because of his outgoing, engaging personality, I have clear memories of our conversations; I also attended a poetry workshop he gave that drew about 15 people from the community.
Paul is a remarkable teacher. His knowledge extends beyond poetry and poets to music, art, and culture in general. His enthusiasm and energy can transform a group of strangers into something like a community in a matter of minutes. At the same time, however, he is extremely well-prepared. In the workshop I attended he struck a fine balance between structure and spontaneity. Comments I heard from other participants after the workshop were very positive.
Fortunately for us all, Paul is a leader in local, regional and Internet arts organizations. I recommend him highly for teaching in person or through any of the media: he has a gift for connecting with people, and connecting with them to the excitement of language.
Creative Writing Program
Eastlake High School
400 228th Ave. N.E.
Sammamish, WA 98074
The Cliche Cafe, 16 E. Main
To Whom It May Concern:
Paul Nelson created the best lesson my students have experienced this year. He brought two poets to school who competed in a poetry bout in front of a group of three hundred teenagers here at Eastlake. Afterward Paul, Aundria and David presented a work shop that inspired the students to create their own poetry competition. Three weeks later Paul returned with Andrea to facilitate a bout among twelve students in front of their class mates.
The whole thing was electric. There were no grades to motivate the students, but they listened with intensity and respect to each participant’s poetry. Afterward many students came up to me individually to tell me that the experience had been motivating and inspiring. Several students have shown me poems they wrote last night on their own after the bout.
One of my students, Kellee Captain, talked about how she cried after Brian Byersdorf’s first poem. She said the readings were really fun; in fact, she said she would like to do it every month or at least every quarter. It would motivate her, she said, to write more. Another student, Kevin Radley, said it was cool. He said that it really made you look at different perspectives. Erin Horvath, a senior, said poetry allows you to open up your mind rather than a text book. She said it was intriguing. When I asked my classes, everyone agreed that the whole process had been exciting and worth while. I have not seen my students so enthusiastic all year.
Having Aundria and David read poetry that clearly affected them deeply helped students truly appreciate poetry. Something Advance Placement studies too easily ignores is that poetry is so much more than the identification of metaphor, imagery and point of view. It is creativity inside the awareness of our weaknesses and our dreams. It is the tension between our sense of fate and destiny – it is words taking us beyond words – beyond space and time. My students today understand this now (on a level I can’t describe) because of your work.
If any other teachers are considering contacting Paul Nelson as a way of bringing poetry alive for students, I encourage them to do so. His work is appropriate and it is magical. He made the lesson a great success.
|Subject: RE: KCLS poetry program at Skykomish School
|From: “Kirsten Edwards”
|Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2006 19:50:44 -0800
|To: “Paul Nelson”
I spoke to Shannon and to Desiree (school superintendent)
and both were very pleased with the experience.
Teen comments were almost entirely positive, the one
(slightly) negative comment came as an afterthought –
a younger teen (6th grade) said he “didn’t understand
a couple of the poems”. Most were excited and pleased –
the buzz lasted for several days.
One memorable comment from a teen whose mom
came to pick him up early for a doctor’s appointment:
“Why do you always have to take me out when we’re
doing something **good**?”
“Infantem dormientem non movere”
|Subject: Thanks for the GREAT program!
|From: “Ruth Griffith”
|Date: Mon, 1 May 2006 12:48:36 -0700
|To: “Paul Nelson”
Your program last Thursday was so cool. Here are some comments-- I hope
they are helpful in promoting this outstanding program.
"The Splab-on-the-road workshop was a blast! Paul and David are the
Real Thing--seasoned performers and true artists who deliver a
consistently top-notch program. Their "death match" performance was
inspiring, hilarious, thought provoking, and highly entertaining. The
poetry writing games seemed to draw out the poet in everyone. They were
fun & engaging for the advanced poet but not too hard or intimidating
for the beginner. Paul is such a great presenter and facilitator that
he kept the program moving along and had us all laughing, thinking,
learning, and having great fun throughout the entire program. I wish we
could make this an ongoing weekly program at our library."
I hope I have a chance to recommend your program to other librarians and
literacy folk. It was a real treat having you here. Best of luck to
you, Dave and Charley--
Ruth Griffith Sno-Isle Libraries 15429 Bothell-Everett Hwy, Mill Creek, WA 98012 (425) 337-4822, ext 13