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Fearless Campers Use Clay and Poetry to Express Emotions

Fearless Campers Use Clay and Poetry to Express Emotions

Posted on July 14th, 2017
By Lisa Gottfried

In Hagigah Poetry and Claymation Yetzirah, campers wrote dozens of poems and created original animation shorts. This workshop required headwork, handwork and the unleashing of emotions. The teens jumped into this workshop, even though many had never written a poem since second grade or even encountered claymation. Hagigah faculty members Lisa Gottfried and Hillary Homzie, noted that the teens were absolutely fearless and enthusiastic.

Working with various poetry prompts, the campers produced dozens of poems. They learned how to strategically use line breaks, sensory detail, imagery as well as simile and metaphor to craft free verse that emotionally resonated with them. They experienced a wide variety of forms, creating ode poems, black-out poetry, hashtag poetry, prose poems and even song lyrics.

“I’m actually interested in poetry, and I didn’t realize that until I got into this class,” said Ethan Tarnarider.

This sentiment was echoed by a number of campers who admitted to then writing poetry on their time off.

“If you have the right tools, poetry is seriously fun,” said poetry and claymation faculty member Homzie, an author and poet, who teaches at Sonoma State University and whose middle-school book Queen of Likes, is about a girl studying for her Bat Mitzvah. It’s also a noted PJ Our Way book. “During the year, I teach in a secular academic environment. Working with such talented and creative teens was such an incredible joy.”

The Poetry workshop became a safe place to analyze emotions, both negative and positive, and in the yetzirah, the students shared their poetry with each other daily.

Working in teams, campers selected verses or imagery from their poems and animated them, through stop motion techniques. Students enjoyed the challenge of connecting visual form and color with written detail, playing with art and language.

I respect animators way more,” said Sam Taxay. “It’s super cool to watch your ideas come to life.”

“The possibilities in claymation are endless,” added Layla Nalangan.

Students said they were amazed at how many emotions could be shown with so few words.

“Camp fills my teacher soul and leaves me hopeful for our future,” said Faculty member Gottfried, who teaches during the year at New Technology High School and is a professional videographer. “When we asked them if they were glad to have a break from our session for Shabbat, they responded. “No, we want more poetry and claymation. Big sigh!”