Posts Tagged ‘wuhan’

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For the past few years, the college students in the Wuhan program have been offered a chance to participate in a poetry workshop, hitherto led by the venerable Don Yorty.  This year, I took over the workshop, and decided to extend it to include rap.   In this post, I’ll discuss session 1 – Literary Poetry.

In this session, I borrowed many of Don’s wonderful ideas (thanks, Don!!). We started with a brainstorming warm up called “Poetry Is . . . “.   I challenged the students to describe poetry in one word.  We kept the warm up going with a group (chain) poetry exercise.  Later, we moved on to our main exercise, which focused intently on metaphor. To illustrate this concept, I used a few lines from Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

We bypassed the interesting metrical and (half) rhyme features of this poem to really dig into how the metaphor was constructed.  The students quickly identified Dickinson’s bird metaphor.  We also used these lines to focus on imagery and appeal to human senses.

The students were then given the task of finding a metaphor for “love”.   I’m convinced that many of the Wuhan students are born poets.  The effort they dedicated to this task is beyond commendable.  During session 3, the students will revise and rehearse their poems in preparation for our closing ceremony.  I’d like to share a few of my favorites from session 1:

Love is a flower,
Beautiful yet weak
Water it with trust and patience
You will be rewarded with its fruits

Love is like the snow,
Clean and bright
Dancing in the sky of the soul
When it falls
It becomes the first present of Christmas

Love is a blue umbrella,
Blooming in the soft rain like a flower
The direction will be told by the water
It falls with one being loved
And the other left with a wet shoulder

The next session I will cover is our rap workshop, which includes moments when the Wuhan students became MCs.  Coming soon . . .


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Finding hip-hop in Shanghai was relatively easy compared to finding it in Wuhan.  After chasing a couple of leads, I was just about ready to give up.  As resourceful as my students are, they are not big hip-hop fans.  Some of them didn’t even think that Wuhan had hip-hop.  This made it hard for them to help me in my persistent (and probably annoying) requests for someone to please help me find local hip-hop.   Angela Steele’s incredible work on hip-hop around China was the assurance I needed to know that hip-hop MUST exist in Wuhan.  Right???

On last Thursday evening, I was chillin in my PJs when I get a call from one of my students – “Hey, there’s a hip-hop benefit concert tonight.  Do you wanna go?”   After I got past my initial bafflement over how she could have possibly gotten my phone number, I savored this good news and accepted the invitation.

Let me say that my decision to go to this show was among the best I’d ever made.  Flows, camaraderie, energy and rhythmic delight stand out as memorable aspects of the performances.  In addition to the veteran, MC Big Dog, Wuhan has produced a new and energetic pair of rap crews – Deep Fire and Free Warz.  One thing is for sure, all parties involved are dedicated to the craft and know how to deliver a quality show.  Hospitality is also another one of their strong suits.  Shortly after we walked in, my student, Flora, initiated a chain of friendly introductions that felt more like meeting up with old friends rather than strangers.  My only regret was not bringing my better camera.

More to come (including video) from the Wuhan show.

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