Wednesday, 5 August 2020

A Positive Voice

I can not get myself organised to write this regularly at the moment. Summer is coming to an end here, less than two weeks before the schools go back and we're trying to readjust to that life, but my body is resisting. I'm struggling to tread water when I just want to let the current pull me along. It doesn't help that I have this weird ear pressure problem that won't clear. 

I was speaking to my writing group about this question of self-belief in one's writing I discussed in my last post and they pointed out that I was lucky to have a positive first creative writing teacher, positive early role models in general. They felt, and I now agree, that the first voices you hear as a child or young person about your self-worth stick with you. If those people, parents, teachers, mentors, were over-critical or negative, that soundtrack will follow you throughout your life. If they were positive, it gives you a bolster of belief that could help support you when things are difficult. It's worrying as a parent and a teacher to understand how much weight the words we speak to children have throughout their lives. 

It is one of the reasons I love teaching creative writing and why I'm struggling with the idea of going into just regular teaching. As a special creative writing teacher, I could focus on just that, be the positive voice who loved their childish leaps into imagination amidst the classroom teacher's worries and critiques of handwriting and spelling. As a classroom teacher, I wouldn't have that time to focus on what I love because there's so many other things that I need to do just to get through the day. As a substitute I have even less time to get to know the students because I am usually just trying to get through the lesson and keep a semblance of control. I've had one or two sparks of it, but most of it feels again like just pushing against the weight of water to stay afloat.

I have an interview coming up for a new role, away from teaching. I'm walking that tightrope of trying to be positive and not get my hopes up. Everything is moving slowly as well which is difficult. It's 2 weeks before my interview. It could be a chance to move back towards supporting writers in a new way which would feel like a positive direction for myself as well. This summer has been heavy with a lot of doubt and questioning which hasn't helped with forward movement. 

I'm focusing on finishing my coursework and getting the kids ready to go back to school. And doing lots of editing, not many new poems are being written, but I'm finishing up a bunch of those poems I've written in my last few courses. 

I joined the Helsinki Poetry Connection for an open mike night this week. My first in Finland and my first in at least 10 years. I'm well out of practice, but it was a good laugh as a few friends from my group also braved the experience and did amazing. Open mikes are the same in the US, UK and Finland in my experience. It all depends on the crowd, but there's usually a good sense of support, some fun, funny and downright crazy readers. It's a weird experience in another language. My Finnish is just not good enough to follow the poems, but I love listening to the sound of it and how everyone made it do different things. Helsinki Poetry Connection was welcoming and multi-cultural, so I didn't feel strange reading in English. I'll definitely do it again. 

A few other bits of good news: Emerge Literary Journal has published my poem 'Growing Through the Sidewalk'.

My poem 'Without Finnish Idioms' won Wax Poetry Art's European Poetry Competition and was the first, and currently the only, poem published in their new online magazine Europe Poetry Magazine. This was one of the poems I read at the open mike. It was fun to see if the Finns reacted to my translations of Finnish idioms. 

And 'Cafe Dreams' is in the current issue of dreams walking, a new magazine with some great work.

Check them all out. 

Things just keep ticking along. Autumn will be here before we know it. Keep positive.

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