There are liminal moments in life when a small step leads to something larger than you imagined. Even just yesterday when you made a choice, did a task, or wrote a poem, suddenly you became something you never knew you could be, and it is good. Kids who are comfortable, who trust the adults in their world, are more likely to find the courage to take that step into the unknown, seize an opportunity that might be a first. Take the students in The Lexington School’s After School Fine Arts Program for Creative Writing, for example. The class started about a month ago. At twelve years old, it takes courage to write words that say what you feel, much less read those words aloud to group of your peers, or publish your poem and send it off for public viewing. Students in the After School Fine Arts Program Creative Writing class with Sarah Combs do all of these things. Sarah enthusiastically insists on it, and they trust her, so they take the risk.
When they signed up for the program, their parents may have known that Sarah Combs, Kentucky writer and author of “Breakfast Served Anytime,”, was the teacher, but the kids weren’t nearly as impressed. At first she was just a cool lady who really liked hearing what they had to say. Now, they are impressed, and it is mutual. And it hasn’t taken long for that relationship to grow, so good stuff is happening quickly. The kids are journaling, writing short stories, non-fiction, poetry. They share their ideas with each other, expressing in as many or few words and images as they have deep down in their growing souls or way up in their young, fresh minds, and each day, they build upon their creative foundation the skills and the confidence. In this short time, already they are writers.
Most recently, Sarah brought an opportunity to her class, an assignment that had broader reach. Kentucky’s Poet Laureate, George Ella Lyon, author of an internationally acclaimed poem, “Where I’m From,” is using this same theme throughout Kentucky to elicit poetry from all 120 counties for a collection to be published on The Kentucky Arts Council’s web page and as a public presentation for the 2016 Kentucky Writers’ Day on April 25th. Here’s a bit more on the “Where I’m From” project.
Each county designates a group of writers to select one poem to send to Frankfort. This is where the drum roll starts and everyone at The Lexington School starts jumping up and down: Aden Ausbrook, age 12, of The Lexington School, participant writer in The After School Fine Arts Program of Creative Writing, was selected for his poem “I Am” (see poem below). The poem will speak for itself; it is beautiful. Its images are full-sensory, and you can’t help but wonder how this child knows so much about himself and the world around him. The poem and Aden are something special.
There’s more. You should read the poem first and then come back to this detail because you won’t believe it: Aden is twelve years old, and he is dyslexic and dysgraphic. As a student in The Lexington School’s Learning Center, where they embrace dyslexia and dysgraphia as a gifts, he has flourished, and in one step further, as a member of Combs’s Creative Writing class, he has found his voice. His writing process is his own; he uses Dragon Dictation on his iPad as he walks around the room seeing his thoughts in his vivid imagination. Aden is talented, and thanks to the small step he (and his parents) took in enrolling in Sarah’s class, something big has happened. Aden is dysgraphic, and he is a writer.
Watch this short video to learn more about the program and to see Aden in action as he writes in a way that works for him and as he reads his poem for us, “I Am,” one of 120 poems of “Where I’m From” for all of Kentucky.
We must thank Sarah Combs for her inspiration and instruction, Sarah Heller, Director of the After School Fine Arts Program for finding Sarah and convincing her to teach, The Simpson Foundation for the Arts for funding this free after school program for Lexington School students, and of course Aden’s dedicated teachers in The Learning Center for helping him take that next step.
by Aden Ausbrook, Age 12, The Lexington School
I am everywhere and nowhere
I am the smell of a dry breaking leaves
I am the whispers of my parents late in the night
I am the swaying of the trees
I am the sound of snow crunching under my feet
I am the sound of no and yes
I am the sound of good job and you should have done
I am he sound of leaves in the frost of winter
I am loud and silent
I am in the secret place where people populate
I am hot and cold
I am summer and winter
I am earth, wind, fire, and water
I am the scratching of words on paper, creating a whole new world to explore
I am drying clothes
I am swimming in the ocean
I am the lost places
I am the cat when she rubs my face
I am sitting with no care in the world
I am the random dog that comes to my house
I am laughs on the beach
I am the man reading to me while I am dozing in the sun
I am sad times and happy times
I am the crying spot that no one knows about
I am the tapping of rain on the windows
I am the secret places where I write
I am the sound of nothing and everything
I am the sound of groaning swings
I am I am I am everything from the smallest piece of grass to the tallest tree
I am the sound of tears falling on the ground and laughter bouncing off the walls
I am in the heart of my home