Photo: CHOICES Poets

Last spring semester, I had the chance to work with a group of poets through CHOICES, a transitional program for individuals with developmental disabilities. Going into the project, I knew I would provide the same poetry lessons I was using in my community college classroom. I want to be clear, this curriculum choice is neither a comment on the level of my community college students nor on the students I had yet to meet. Instead, it is a testament to the power of poetry and creativity and invention. I am pleased to report that trusting the process consistently yields tremendous rewards. Just when my instinct to step in and be too proscriptive was on the verge of flooding out of me, I would witness magic. In fact, in the second before I went to suggest that one student approach her found poem without cutting and pasting entire paragraphs from magazines, she pulled a pink highlighter, like a wand, out of her backpack and showed us the single words she’d fished from the now pages of passages she’d glued into place. And, abracadabra, a poem landed before us. It was as if she assembled a mirror carp; each of the words were polished scales.

Video: Two of the Choices Poets perform on local television:

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