The Digital Haiku

August 20, 2012

This summer, the Bride’s Rock the Pen! has been working with students from Philadelphia Academies Inc. These 14 students have been interning at various financial institutions throughout the city for most of the summer.

Philadelphia Academies Inc. (PAI) approached the Bride in late June and asked if the Bride could create a six-week program to stimulate the students’ creative talents. The Bride welcomed the challenge and along with poet/spoken word artist, Nina “Lyrispect” Ball, created a new series – The Digital Haiku.

The Digital Haiku introduces the students to the Japanese poetic form of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five. The students worked closely with Nina to individually create haikus which explored their current dual role as student and interns. They read and discussed the themes of duality and code-changing in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s We Wear the Mask. Once the students created at least two haikus, I stepped in to continue to work with the students to add digital elements. Over the next four weeks, this included recording each of the students reciting their haikus, collecting/creating original images to illustrate their haikus and using iMovie to add titles, transitions and edit the voiceovers and images together.

Throughout the workshop, the students and I also had robust discussions about the power of social media and the importance of managing and maintaining a responsible “digital footprint.” The students learned that they are “producers” when they create digital content such as taking photos with their cell phones and they become “content distributors” when they push “send” and post/distribute their photos to family and friends.

I’m still amazed by how each of the students went above and beyond the original intent of the project and produced such amazing, honest and profound work. Below is a sample created by one of the students, Cierra. Through this workshop process Cierra discovered that she has a knack for audio editing and worked closely with many of the other participants in helping them to add music and adjust their audio levels on their projects. Cierra was a tremendous help to me as we worked diligently to prepare the digital haikus for a public showing.

This workshop series ended with a presentation to the staff of Philadelphia Academies Inc. and many of the employers who worked directly with the interns.

by Lisa Nelson-Haynes, Associate Director