They say the final step to truly learning something is when you can turn around and teach it to someone else. That philosophy, along with my cheesy obsession with mustaches, prompted me to devote the last three days of Intermediate Creative Writing Workshop classes to what I've called the "world premier" of my students' portfolios. Here at Interlochen, it's easy to think life is all about music--and that includes many world premiers of compositions from artists respected in their field. But why don't writers get a "world premier" when their story debuts in such-and-such literary magazine? Or the first time they read a new poem at an open mic? Unable to come up with a good reason, I polled my students and discovered they were just as excited about the idea of a world premier as myself, and so our work began...
We revised, of course, focusing on what I called "surfer dude revision" or "poncho revision." Surfer dude revision is "just one line at a time man, everything's cool, no problem here--just chill out and take it slow, check every word and see how it feels." In other words, line-level revisions for a poem that is mostly complete, but needs some finishing touches on word choice, rhythm, and punctuation. Poncho revision is when you've got to get in there and go into the storm. Things can get so messy that even a poncho won't keep you from getting wet, but the payoff is that moment when the sun shines after the storm and there is a sudden and new clarity to the world, or the poem, as the case may be.
For flash fiction, the surfer dude revisions took place by eliminating or replacing what I call "killer be verbs" and "killer filler words" for overall flow and lyricism, not to mention creating a crystal clear image in the mind's eye of the reader. Poncho revisions focused more on metaphor, clarity, and establishing a convincing reaction or shift at the conclusion of the piece. These revisions were more difficult to pull off with limited time, but I've got to hand it to my students--they worked really hard.
The finishing touches? Students collaged the covers of their porfolios and made fake mustaches to greet our guests today. On the back patio of The Writing House, they munched on cookies, read a few poems out loud to get the crowd warmed up, then sat diligently in their world premier portfolio seats as other Interlochen Summer Arts students visited them, inquiring about their work. Here, you'll see just how amazing these students are as they begin to teach others what they learned. Note: Intermediate students wear red lanyards and are grades 6-9, while Juniors wear navy blue lanyards and are grades 3-6. You'll see and hear both in this video, and the exchanges were such a joy and honor to capture. Please, if you're at all invested in the future artists of our world (as you'll hear, many are from other countries), take the time to enjoy this video and share it with others. Thanks for your interest!