by Pathways Clinicians Jeanne Neuwirth, LCSW and Lisa Lussier, LSW
Carteret Middle School students were recently treated to an extraordinary after school program hosted by Pathways School Based Youth Services Program, in concert with State Theater New Jersey’s Artist-in-Residence Program.
Poet Glenis Redmond fascinated a classroom filled with girls and boys with her “informance,” in which she shared several poems from her three published books, Under the Sun, Backbone, and What My Hand Say. Ms. Redmond’s informance involves not simply reading her poems, but illustrating a complete picture using voice inflection and performance in a manner that is entirely captivating.
She is a storyteller through and through, telling stories woven from her insights, her childhood, and inspired by African-American historical figures. According to biographical materials provided by State Theater, she is known for writing and performing a style of poetry called the Praise Poem, a type of Tribute Poetry. “It can celebrate a single person, a family, a people, a hero, a god, or even oneself.”
Ms. Redmond explained that her poetry usually grows out of “great joy or great pain.” As she shared her poem called “Mama’s Magic” she conjured up her childhood home and the potency of the love her mother poured into her and her siblings. Certainly, the magic spread among the students in the classroom as they were utterly engrossed in the moment.
As the informance came to an end, Ms. Redmond noticed a student sitting in the back, holding a sheet of paper. She inquired, “Do you have a poem to share?” and the student indeed did. She shared a beautiful poem entitled, “My Sister’s Keeper,” dedicated to her younger sister, who was sitting beside her. Everyone applauded, and the adults in the room became teary-eyed. Ms. Redmond called the student up and assigned her homework of other young poets to look up. She also gifted her a book of her poetry that she inscribed with a personal message, from one poet to another. The student beamed. And so the magic continues.
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