I started off this semester with a blog about a reflection of me: my rambling, charmingly dilapidated home: Stines Corner. It seems fitting then, to end on a reflection, not necessarily of me this time, but on my experience this semester, here at the Binghamton Poetry Project.
I have learned a lot this semester – a cliché thing to say, I know – but it’s the truth. I learned that little kids, through attending the kids workshops, have unlimited poetic capabilities. This workshop was my favorite experience as an intern. I always forget how creative and fearless kids are. They have no preconceptions of what constitutes “good” or “thought-provoking” poems. They just write and it imbues their work, their poems with a certain authenticity that I strive to reach in my own poetry. Their work never seems contrived or affected. They love to write poetry, so they came to our workshop and they did. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this process for them. What’s more is while I was helping them with their poetry – they taught me to be fearlessly creative and to be confident in my poetry.
I learned that running a community organization like the Binghamton Poetry Project, is hard work. This seems obvious but working with Carolyn and Heather, the director and assistant director of BPP, I have witnessed first-hand how much effort goes into organizing and running the workshops, compiling the anthology and coordinating the final reading – to name a few of the things that the Project does each semester. Community work, while sometimes tedious and often difficult, is very rewarding. The artistic outlet this organization offers to the Binghamton community is very special and unique. I feel very lucky to have, minimally, contributed to its existence.
I learned that poetry is for everybody. I often feel that people think poetry is unapproachable – either too tough or tedious to write, or too abstract and difficult to understand. In working with BPP this semester I have been exposed to the range of individuals that this organization serves. While compiling the anthology I was amazed at the spectrum of community members submitting poems. One moment, I was typing up a clever middle-schooler’s poem about a circle and the next completely engrossed by a middle-aged man’s poem about self-reflection. I love that the anthology is representative of the breadth of individuals who can, and do, write poetry. BPP offers the opportunity for community members to embrace the poet inside all of us. At the final reading, I was struck by the members of this community who have found their poetic voice, who have embraced their inner-poet and proudly share his work.
As I conclude this final blog, it seems like a good time to give some thanks. To Carolyn and Heather: thank you for being patient with me, guiding me, and for the opportunity to work with you in this incredible organization. To anyone who reads this blog, who came to the workshops, or has been involved with BPP this semester: thank you for allowing me this unique, fulfilling internship opportunity. I hope our paths, through poetry or otherwise, continue to cross.
It’s crazy to think that after three months, five weeks of writing workshops, and countless hours spent with this organization, my time as an intern is up. I first learned about Binghamton Poetry Project during my freshman year when I received a call for submissions email for BPP’s spring contest. By some stroke of luck, my poem was the runner-up, and I was invited to read at BPP’s spring 2015 final reading. Now, two and a half years later, I am a senior who had the opportunity to plan and host this semester’s reading. Isn’t it poetic how my college experience has come full circle?
As a BPP intern, I gained the confidence to teach a room full of adults about poetry. I am president of Binghamton University’s Slam Poetry Club so I have experience leading workshops for people around my age, but I was nervous about going in front of a group of people who are older than me and know more than me and have probably been writing for a lot longer than I have. Of course I am still a student and still have a lot to learn, but this semester I realized that someone can be a poet at any age and you are never too young to talk and to teach and to listen.
As a BPP intern, I learned a lot about nonprofit management. I have wanted to intern for BPP since my freshman year but I held off applying until the semester that I wanted to complete my human development practicum. As a human development major, I have dedicated myself to helping others and the community at large. In order to finish my degree, my final requirement was to volunteer 100 hours at a community organization. BPP has been the perfect practicum site because it combines so many of my passions: poetry, community development, and education. Not only have I had the opportunity to write and to learn, but I got to see firsthand what goes into making a community organization run smoothly.
As a BPP intern, I had the opportunity to be a true citizen of Binghamton. As a college student, I have taken so much from the city and I have made it my goal to give back as much as I can. During these last few months, I have gotten to know so many wonderful people at my workshop and at the final reading. Without BPP, I never would have known how many poets have made a home in Binghamton. I also probably would have never realized how nice the Broome County Library is.
I still have one semester left at Binghamton, so this is not a permanent goodbye. And I’m sure that whoever takes my (and Isabel’s) place next semester will be so great that you won’t even miss us. But regardless, know that I will miss you. When I think back on my college experience, BPP will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for reading, thank you for writing. Do me a favor and don’t stop.
Bye for now,