A "Second Reflection"

Feb. 2, 2009, midnight | By Hannah Wolfman-Arent | 10 years, 11 months ago

Blair writer publishes his first book

His writing marathon was the result of Georges� commitment to produce his first book of poetry, with English Resource teacher Vickie Adamson as his mentor. Georges is close to finishing the time-consuming process of self-publishing, and by the end of January, he expects to be selling a collection of poems entitled "Second Reflection." But to Georges and Adamson, the project is not about possible profits. It is about the opportunity for Georges to speak his mind on race, love, stereotypes and struggle, and the opportunity for others to hear him.

Once �Second Reflections� has been finalized and printed, Georges will have written his first poem and published his first book � all in the same semester. As the back of his book will declare, Georges is a native of Haiti who has lived in the United States for three years. He has been writing and creating since the age of 10, he says, beginning first with song lyrics. He sings and raps in both French and Creole, and after three years of attending school in the United States, found himself in Adamson�s English 12 class writing poetry in a third language.

During Adamson�s class, Georges and his classmates read "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros and studied the poetry of the protagonist, Esperanza, that is embedded in the text. Adamson assigned her students to write similar poetry, and soon Georges had a growing collection of poems that he wanted to share. "He just came to me and said he wanted to publish them," Adamson says.

Adamson and Georges decided to use iUniverse, the same self-publishing company that Adamson worked with in 2005 to publish her first novel, The Color of Love. With iUniverse, the cost is lower than regular publishing companies, because all interaction between the publishing company and Georges happens electronically, a process Adamson believes is fulfilling, if time-consuming. "I think self-publishing is a great thing because it allows everybody to get their voice out there," says Adamson. Still, she says, despite wishing she could work this extensively with all of her students, "if every student wanted to do [what Andre is doing], they would have to do it more individually." While Georges walks from class to class, carrying proofs of various book pages and editing for errors, Adamson helps by entering changes into a spreadsheet.

The long hours are worth it to Georges, who is eager to spread messages to other youth. He uses his poetry, for example, to speak out against gang violence that he has witnessed affect his friends. He has also thought extensively about how to present his art form. He was planning on including pictures to accompany his poetry, but thinking the images might leave little room for interpretation, decided against it. "Some might think [a poem] is about a girl who got shot, but she," Georges says pointing to a girl across the room, "she might think it�s about love. "

One element he was confident in, however, was the cover. Made in collaboration with Adamson, it shows a side view of Georges� face � the image that his peers are already accustomed to. Beside it, though, is another image that may be less known. This one is a silhouetted version of the same head � a "Second Reflection."

Hannah Wolfman-Arent. Hannah Wolfman-Arent has a nice family, but they neglected to give her a middle name. Appointed a high-ranking member of the Spirit Committee, she now has an excuse for her sometimes, erm, strange behavior. She is really good at driving, but not on the highway ... More »

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