Writing with Teens: an Exquisite Corpse exercise and some Butt Jokes

Write Around Portland called me in as a sub. I hadn’t lead a writing workshop in about a year, but I really like working with teenagers. They can be a little challenging at times, but you should meet some adults I know.

One of the girls wanted to do the exquisite corpse writing exercise, and it took up a lot of the work shop time, but honestly I didn’t mind. I had mentioned to them if they wanted to do something other than what I suggested we could because ultimatly it’s their writing group, and they should take charge of it as their own group which is a goal of Write Around Portland. Age is such an odd perception. When I’m sitting down with them at a table, and we are talking about writing, and I’m supposed to be the adult facilitating the workshop, a funny thing is going on in my head. It’s like a secret. On the outside I look old. To them I am old. I’m 15 almost 20 years older than them. Yet, on the inside I feel the same age or sometimes I feel even younger than them. It’s like a shadow feeling that dances on the edge of my peripheral. I’m not sitting in the feeling because I am clearly aware of my adultness and my position and role, but in the background like a faint, faint song, is the young me. She’s still there. She’s always there along with all the other ages I have been up to this point. I feel nervous. I wonder if they are going to like me. I wonder if they’ll like my writing. If there is some kid that is a really talented writer, I think, wow, I wish I wrote something like that. It so strange to me.  I’m the adult, right, and I’m never supposed to be nervous or feel awkward around kids, right? Here we were reading to each other our exquisite corpse, me at the adult with the 15 year old me in the distant shadows and I read the line, “I taught him how to lick his own butt.”  You know, at some point it always comes back to some butt joke and something gross. What did I do? Adult me started laughing.

Every time I’m around a group of teens in that type of setting I think, I wish they were my kids. I think I’d be so proud of them. I am reminded in this thought that some of these kids have parents that don’t feel proud, and in fact some are abusive, and some or negligent, which is sad because all these kids are cool. So much potential. Such exciting people.

Here’s our exquisite corpse:

Captain Roohosbin said he saw land ahead. The first mate peered over the side to see the horizon. He said, “it’s her-Moby Dick! Throw the harpoon! Fetch you bastard! Here Dick. Go get it. Fetch. Fetch.” I swear that is the dumbest dog ever. I will give it to my friend or I will bring it to school with me and train it to be the smartest dog ever seen. Wow. I mean, when i tell him to lick his butt he does it. When I say go to the bathroom, yeah he will do it but I forget to tell him where. Oh well, he can eat it clean. When I’m sleeping he will always start talking like humans talk. Last night I left the tv on and somehow he got to the adult channels and I woke up to him singing, “What What in the Butt” in his sleep. He dreamt about me in his mom’s bathing suit. It was fun. That was the best ride ever. Whoever thought of an underwater roller coaster? I have a ridiculous fear of roller coasters or any sort of amusement park. my uncle Dave forgot me there once. At the mall. He went home without me and I was still in the video game store. When I noticed I freaked! The first mate said, to the captain. It was something about seeing the land that brought back a flood of memories. “Think of the malls we could build! We’ll never leave a child there again.”

So as you can see- no sense but note the important factors of, two butt jokes a poo joke and yes the ever popular, a dig to your mom. I wish I had some of the other ones. Sometimes they flow sometimes they don’t. I often take away great lessons from my kids. For example with my first group I learned how to Lean Like a Cholo-Elbows up side to side (We had a dance party on our last day, we still wrote but the last 30 minutes was a bit more…oh…freestyle creativity). And now I know why, when I said the lines, “What what in the Butt,” they started to scream with laughter. Because of course I had to google it. Don’t you just love the internet? I can just google what what in the butt and voila-

Yep. It’s still funny.

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