Hangin’ With Young Writers in Chapel Hill

It wasn’t easy to get to North Carolina. I spent all of Monday at JFK. My first flight was cancelled and I never made it onto my severely delayed second flight (even though I was the first name on the standby list and Delta agents assured me I’d get a seat) (yep, still bitter). But thanks to flexibility of teacher extraordinaire, Teresa Bunner, I was able to shift my visit a day, and, man, I’m glad it worked out.


I got to hang out with some great young writers who told it from the heart with real-deal honesty. I witnessed a young vato from Mexico propose not once but twice, to two different older women (I kept thinking, this dude could be my son!). I learned to respond to an especially emotional poem with frantic finger snapping. I happened into a heated Duke versus Carolina debate. But best of all, I listened to each kid rock the mic (metaphorically), reading the work they were most proud of at the end of the three month summer writing intensive. I love when I’m brought in to inspire and I end up the inspired one. I won’t soon forget this one powerful piece by a kid named Cruz. He told of his and his family’s journey from Mexico into the United States and how he’s learning to own his heritage.

And then, of course, the violence ensued . . .