Thursday, May 17, 2007

Introducing Dream Keepers

In 2004, I began attending a church in the heart of my city. During my first visit, I had a vision: I would teach writing to the young people in this place. I dismissed the thought. I’m too busy. It’s too hard. They wouldn’t be interested. But the visions persisted. Each time I sat in the pew, the dream would come. Finally, I accepted this vision as a calling. I shared the dream with others, but I didn’t believe it would come true. Then a friend asked, “What can you do right now to make this happen?”

In the fall of 2006, I embarked on a writing journey with four young women from the church. We have named ourselves “Dream Keepers,” after a poem by Langston Hughes. Hughes believed that writers were the dream keepers of the community. We are! In addition, recent studies suggest that people who write down their deepest thoughts, feelings, and dreams are healthier, happier, and have better success achieving their goals.

Every Saturday I meet with four or five young women. We talk and write. Mostly we journal about our lives. Sometimes I give them writing exercises or themes to work with.

In the winter we wrote about our dreams. Each of the girls read one of their poems for a Black Hostory Month celebration.

This past spring we have been writing about violence. The girls live in one of the most violent neighborhoods in this city. They witness violence on a daily basis. In one of my own drives through the neighborhood, I saw a man being beaten by four other men wielding baseball bats.

Here is a poem by one of the young people about violence. It's unedited and very honest.

I Could Live Without It
by Elisha Branch

All the hatred and vain
I could live without it
All the violence and pain
I could live without it
All the killings and slaughters
I could live without it
All the motherless daughters
I could live without it
All the shootings and drugs
I could live without it
All the jealousy and mugs
I could live without it
All the terror and gangs
I could live without it
All the cursing and slang
I could live without it
All blocks filled with silence
I could live without it
All the cities conquered by violence
I definitely could live without it
A lot of peace and prayer
I could live with that
A lot of celebration everywhere.
I could live with that.