Now, I know that the number one rule to being cool is to seem unfazed, to never admit that anything scares you or impresses you or excites you.
Somebody once told me it's like walking through life like this. You protect yourself from all the unexpected miseries or hurt that might show up.
But I try to walk through life like this.
And yes, that means catching all of those miseries and hurt, but it also means that when beautiful, amazing things just fall out of the sky, I'm ready to catch them.
I use spoken word to help my students rediscover wonder, to fight their instincts to be cool and unfazed and,
instead, actively pursue being engaged with what goes on around them, so that they can reinterpret and create something from it.
It's not that I think that spoken-word poetry is the ideal art form. I'm always trying to find the best way to tell each story.
I write musicals; I make short films alongside my poems. But I teach spoken-word poetry because it's accessible.
Not everyone can read music or owns a camera, but everyone can communicate in some way, and everyone has stories that the rest of us can learn from.
Plus, spoken-word poetry allows for immediate connection.
It's not uncommon to feel like you're alone or that nobody understands you,
but spoken word teaches that if you have the ability to express yourself and the courage to present those stories and opinions,
you could be rewarded with a room full of your peers, or your community, who will listen.
And maybe even a giant girl in a hoodie who will connect with what you've shared.
And that is an amazing realization to have, especially when you're 14.
Plus, now with YouTube, that connection's not even limited to the room we're in.
I'm so lucky that there's this archive of performances that I can share with my students.
It allows for even more opportunities for them to find a poet or a poem that they connect to.