A student turns in a brilliant poem. She’s not ready to publish it on Social Voice. It’s still too raw and too personal and she’s too scared of peers and of the spotlight and perhaps even her own voice, because you’re not used to seeing power in your own words when you’ve spent a good part of your life filling in the blanks.
“I want you to change one thing,” I tell her.
“Make it upper case. I know some poets choose lower case, but I think it’s a big mistake.”
“I don’t get it,” she answers.
“What you say is important. It demands an upper case letter, because you are a proper noun. You are not an object or a thing like a table or a chair. You matter. And because of that, I want you to write your name with a capital letter.”
She starts turning in her writing with capital letters, this time big and bold and perhaps even angry or ironic. She’s shouting her name now, but at least she’s using upper case. I’ll take a student who will shout poetry from a hilltop over a student who hushes herself with lower-case letters.