Day 3: Skating in Chadron

Poetry is often finding order inside chaos, exploring the undefinable to find its borders, to work it into something tangible and explainable. So, of course, poets are the best ones to have in your corner when you have a few hundred high school students on your campus and black ice suddenly on the roads.

Zedeka, joe and I were supposed to run a morning open mic at Chadron State College for students coming in from around the region for their Scholastic Day. We were expected to have a small group of students coming and going between taking tests to hopefully earn scholarships to the College, but I started receiving texts from Markus early that morning with alerts about the roads, campus, hundreds of students stuck in the Student Center.

So we do what poets do: We ran an open mic. We cajoled students into writing poems and then reading them out loud. We had a blast.

It was a fun morning, with a number of the Chadron State English students reading with us, a few professors, too. And we had a number of high school students who were full of “Oh, I’m no poet” energy finding themselves turning around and reading with us for a few hours. joe even got one hesitant student (who, in round one, refused to read her poem out loud but did let joe read it) to read her own poem late in the day. Poetry for the win.

Afterward, I even got to read my poem “Notes For My Daughter Against Chasing Storms” in front of a room of students about to take an essay exam about that same poem.

Thanks for hosting us, Chadron, and wonderful job, English Department, on rolling with the punches.