Session 7: Experience

Posted August 24, 2006 by Sahar
Categories: Self, Sessions

This session explores experiences that are silent and invisible to the world, but pulse with signifigance inside us. Facilitate the opening introduction and discussion time and patience. Make sure each participant understands the distinction behind personl meaningful experiences in contrast to convenational rites of passage. Root the conversation in their experiences. Following the discussion, this session has very a popular activity called Experience Exchange, which has been a hit almost every time. Just be sure to provide ample time for it. The writing activity is very guided and is intended to be so to help the writer navigate through the vastness of the experience they choose to write about.

For a printable version of this session, click on Session 7: Experience


  1. Small Sheets of Paper.


“Learning to Cook” by Pooja Kumari Jha


Excersising through Story-Telling

  1. Have everyone stand in a circle.
  2. One person starts a story by saying the first line. As she says the line, she performs any one movement that the line describes. For instance, if the line is “I woke up this morning, then the person may stretch her arms they way one does when they wake up.
  3. The rest of the group in the circle will repeat the line and the action.
  4. The person next to the first person will continue the story by saying another line and enacting it. The perfoms the same action again.
  5. The game ends onece everybody has said one line each. The last person has to end the story.

To add more of a dramatic effect, ask participants to play out eccentric actions. Also, stress that the same action cannot be repeated.


The Importance of digging into one’s memories

We experience a lot of things in life. Certain incidents that happen to us are generally taken to be more important than others. For instance, the day you passed your board exams, or the day you got a job. These events are very public, and everyone knows why they are important. However, there are incidents in our lives which may be very significant but the worlds does not know about them. The world may think such incidents are trivial, but in reality such incidents can be life-altering. These moments are private, and only we know how they are important in inour lives. Sometimes because these moments are so invisible and silent to the rest of the world, we ourselves begin to think that these moments aren’t worth sharing or celebrating. We must dig into our memories to rediscover these incidents, and how they have changed our lives, in whatever little or giganctic way. This a is a step towards knowing ourselves better.


1. Pass out little sheets of blank paper.

2. Participants write a detailed stenence about an important memory or experience. They must not mentioned why the experience is significant; they should only physically describe what happened.

  • EXAMPLE: Riding the train from Kolkata to Pune and being asked by a young man, “Would you like some biscuits?” [Deeper meaning: The beginning of a new friendship]
  • EXAMPLE: On a grey august morning, standing on the green grass in the cemetary [Deeper meaning: Death of my favorite Uncle.]

3. After anonymously writing these experince on the piece of paper, participants place them into a bowl.

4. Pass the bowl around and everybody will pick one randomly. If they picked their own piece of paper,try again.

5. Each writer must create or imagine a “deeper meaning” of the exprience and share it with the group.

7. Then the person who actually wrote the experience will share the true deeper meaning if they feel comfortable.



Such incidents in our lives are actually kernels of stories, poems that can be very unique and very powerful. The significance of the moment that is lost to the world can be brough out and communicated if we turn our memories into poems.

Guided Writing

Ask participants to write down the one significant incident or experience they want to write a poem on. Each of them must think deep and recall all the details surrounding that moment or experience. where were (s)he? What was (s)he wearing? Who else was around? What time of the day was it? The poem each person writes will have the following structure:

  1. I remember…(the day/evening/etc when I sat on a bike)
  2. A sound heard close to oneself
  3. Immediate sight in front
  4. Body part association (‘My hands were moist’ or ‘eye lashes were wet with lies’)
  5. A scent or smell
  6. A feeling
  7. A distant sound
  8. A color
  9. A distant sight
  10. A touch
  11. Another feeling (different)
  12. The deeper meaning of the incident/exprience (Freedom, Confidence, Loss, Growing up, Overcoming fear, etc)



Go around the room and ask the group to “sign” how they felt about this session. Thumbs up, great session. Thumbs down, bad session. Thumbs sideways, so-so session.

Not to be used or reproduced without written permission from Kalam: Margins Write unless it is for educational purposes.


Session 6: Emotions

Posted August 17, 2006 by Sahar
Categories: Identity, Self

This session is an instrospective session exploring emotions through similies and metaphors. It combines a good balance of collective writing activities and individual writing activities. The effectiveness of the opening discussion seems to depend on the degree of familiarity between participants. If the group knows each other well — like the participants of Sanlaap and DIKSHA — we’re sure it will be an insightful conversation. If the group is less familiar with each other, like the participants of Vikramshila, try to tailor the discussion around people they know well. The activities that follow usually have been enjoyable by all.

For printable version of this session, click on Session 6: Emotions

(Again, the session will be posted on the blog very, very soon.)

Session 5: Identity

Posted August 17, 2006 by Sahar
Categories: Self, Sessions

This session guides participants to deconstruct stereotypes and stigmas around idenities by reassessing who we consider to be ‘other’ and by analyizing how sometimes we may seem like ‘others.’ In the past, participants have found this session to be eye-opening and even cathartic. However, this session demands facilitators to be sensitive and powerful in their presentation.

For a printable version of this session, click on Session 5: Identity

(I’ll get this session out on the blog very soon — currently, I’m struggling with format.)

Session 4: My Name

Posted August 15, 2006 by Sahar
Categories: Self, Sessions

This session leads the workshop into its first thematic phase: Identity. In the past, we’ve had diverse experiences with this workshop, but youth have always found its particular theme – My Name – to be powerful. Sometimes the discussions around the theme have been very engaging and insightful. At other times, the discussions have been one-dimensional despite probes and prompts from facilitators. In order to avoid such a situation, we’ve added a new activity: a focus write on the theme, My Name. We hope this gives each participant space for introspection, even for the quiet participants.

The writing activity for this particular session has been consistently popular. Its simple and the end results are almost always beautiful.

To see the session, click on Session 4: My Name

Session 3: Practicing Craft

Posted August 13, 2006 by Sahar
Categories: Craft, Sessions

This session starts off with introducing The Writer’s Notebook. This is one of the most crucial steps for participants to transition into poets. And its astonishing how ownership of a writer’s notebook can inspire writing.

This greater part of this session brings together a vareity of activities allowing participants to explore and practice the use of sensory imagery, similes, metaphors. Some of these activities are done orally and collectively, and some individually on paper. Feel free to mix methods around depending on the comfort and confidence of your group.

This session also includes a new activity which we’ve never done before – the writing activity “Five ways to Look at a Dead Crow.” This is activity is of course inspired by Wallace Stevens’ “13 Ways of Looking at Black Bird.” Other poetry groups and writer’s workshops often use this poem in different ways to instigate writing. Through this activity we hope to further practice metaphors, particualry uncommon metaphors. We wonder if this activity may be a little challengeing at this early stage, but lets see. It will be interesting to see how it goes with the group of boys in Don Bosco.

For Session 3, click on Session 3: Practicing Craft

Session 2: Inner Vision of a Poet

Posted August 10, 2006 by Sahar
Categories: Craft, Sessions

For a printable version of this session,
click on Session 2: Inner Vision of a Poet


  1. Literature: “Kabita Aamon” by Al Mahmud

  2. Arts Supplies (Crayons, Paints, sketch pens)


Circle of Similarities

The group stands or sits in a circle with one person in the middle. The person in the middle says, “I stand on common ground with people who….” and then says something that defines or describes them. Everyone in the circle whom that statement also describes has to leave their spot and switch with someone lese, and the person in the middle finds a spot in the circle. The person left in the middle starts again. This game can be made as deep or as silly as desired, depending on the statements people make.


1. Ground Rules and Contract

  • Discuss importance of functioning as a community. (Self-respect/mutual respect)
  • Talk about how Kalam is about sharing ourselves through writing with each other.
  • It is important to start out with a shared understanding of how we will respect each other and our ideas.
  • Brainstorm Ground Rules (Do this on a Chart paper).
  • Write out all the ground rules every participant comes up with.
  • After all ground rules have been explored, vote on each of them as a group.
  • Write all finalized rules on a new piece of Chart paper.
  • Have all participants sign the paper. This is Kalam’s contract.

Some Ground Rules Kalam should include:

  • Don’t laugh at each other’s art, ideas, thoughts, etc.
  • During Poetry Sharing Session, give full attention to the poet.
  • Be pen to constructive criticism (in order to ensure improvement of poetic craft.)
  • Cell Phones Off

2. The Writer’s 1st Step: Know Yourself — Discussion

Where does poetry come from? Poets write from their hearts about what they deeply care about or about what deeply affects them. But sometimes we don’t even know what is in our hearts because too often other people tell us what should be important to us. Explain to the group that we feel the first step a writer needs to take is to revist their heart and see what is hiding, lurking, beating inside. It is a poets job to know the interior of her heart.

3. Heart Mapping

Note to Facilitator: Heart Mapping will allow the poets to visualize and concretize what they really care about, as well as, help sharpen their inner vision.]

  1. Pass out blank sheets of paper and plenty of art Supplies.
  2. Tell the group that they are to make a map of all the important things that are in your heart – visible and invisible.
  3. Keep this activity as an in-session activity.

Thing to include in activity:

Memories, People Places, Things you love to do, First time you learned something,Trips/Holidays

Questions/Prompters to instigate heart mapping:

What are some experiences or central events that you’ll never forget? What happy or sad memories do you have? What secrets have you kept in your heart? What small things or objects are important to you – a tree in your back yard, a trophy, a stuffed animal?

Something to Consider as Maps are being created:

Should some things be outside of the heart and some inside? Do you want to draw more than one heart — good and bad; happy and sad; secret and open — and include different things inside each heart? Do different colors represent different emotions, events, relationships?

4. Sharing Heart Maps

Go around the room and ask participants share parts of your heart map – parts that you feel comfortable sharing.

ENERGIZER (Optional)

All participants stand in the middle of the room and facilitators announce two contradicting/opposing/dissimilar statements (Night/Day or Auto/Bus or Bus/Telephone Booth or Blue/Red). In a split second, the participants decide which statement resonates true to them run to the opposite sides of the rooms, each side representing a statement as designated by the facilitator.


1. Read aloud “Kabita Aamon” by Al Mahmud. Pass out copies to participants.

2. Ask the group how they feel after hearing/reading this poem? Do they seem images, feel sensations from the writer’s heart in the poem?



Go around the room and ask the group to “sign” how they felt about this session. Thumb up, Great Session. Thumbs Down, Bad Session. Thumbs Sideways, So-so session.


  1. Explanation taken from “Group Games” provided by Pipeline Project, University of Washington
  2. From Heard, Georgia. Awakening the Heart. Page 108

Not to be used or reproduced without written permission from Kalam: Margins Write unless it is for educational purposes.