'Hummingbird Conditions' - by Esther Kamkar
A small selection of poems written over a 10-year period resulted in 'Hummingbird Conditions', with the help of a grant from the Peninsula Community Foundation. My responsibility and privilege was to use it as a sample book in a workshop teaching poetry and bookmaking to students at the Ecumenenical Hunger Project in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Esther Kamkar: "In our "First Thought" word game, one student would often respond to a word I offered, not verbally but with a riff, a jazz riff, moving his body to the rhythm. At first he was sheepish, but he noticed my delight and continued to respond to the words with his own first thoughts, using the music of his own voice and body.
I introduced alliteration as a poetic device and one of the most powerful catalysts of our writing practice was the alliteration, "Hate Hurts". Students were asked to write about a time when they were the recipients of some kind of prejudice - the color of their skin, their native language, their country of origin – and how it made them feel.
In an atmosphere of safety, students were able to express their feelings, both verbally and in writing. Students wrote their own "Just Because..." poems, indignant of stereotyping. Because our workshops were built on caring, students blossomed and I believe their lives were enriched by the seeds I planted in their brilliant minds and tender hearts.
This project also helped me in ending my poet-in-exile status, to be hopeful about building community and being part of it."
:: Design by Waterman
:: Logo woodcut by Barbara Leventhal-Stern