National Writing Project

We Are No Stephen Kings: The Reluctant Road from Coal Miner to Classroom

By: Aida Mainella Everhart
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 3
Date: Summer 1997

Summary: Teaching a "transition class" to a group of unemployed coal miners, Everhart finds that reading, writing, and writing poetry in particular prepare and motivate her students for the challenges that lie ahead.



Now they admit that it was not as difficult as they had earlier imagined. I witness as they witness their thoughts flowing from the brain, via the muscular arm, into the callused hand, through the dexterous fingers, and out of the "Berol" pencil and magically spilling onto the ruled paper. Emotions, ideas, feelings stare back like a photograph in black and white. Many tell me that writing down their feelings or just journaling the day-to-day routines (routines so unlike that lifetime coal mining routine a lifetime ago), has not only become therapeutic, but makes them feel as if they really can do something creative, innovative and worthwhile.

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