Cops and kids set sail on – Adventuress – for poetry workshop

PORT TOWNSEND — On the sailing ship, there are lines that secure the vessel to the dock.

Other lines are used to raise the sails when the ship is ready to set out to sea.

Ratlines serve as ladders to climb to the top of the mast and look over the horizon, while lifelines around the cap rail provide a handhold if someone starts to fall overboard.

Christine Hemp hopes that poetry will be as strong a lifeline for local youth.

“When we find powerful language, we have more power in ourselves,” Hemp says.

Hemp is the founder and leader of Connecting Chord, a writing workshop that brings together youth who have rebelled against society and the police officers who deal with them.

Hemp led the first cop/kid workshop in a high-crime borough of London four years ago; she also did one in inner-city Philadelphia.

She brought Connecting Chord to Port Townsend and Fort Worden State Park three years ago, but this year is adding a new dimension by holding the workshop aboard the tall ship Adventuress.

“A place changes things,” Hemp said.

“When you’re making art and you don’t know what’s going to happen, the imagination comes rushing in.”

Talking, writing poetry

On Adventuress, a gaff topsail schooner based in Port Townsend, six to eight teenagers will spend the week talking about life and writing poems with local police, a sheriff’s deputy and probation officers.

Depending on the weather, they’ll be up on deck of the 137-foot vessel or down in the main cabin. The goal: To get to know each other outside of stereotyped roles.

“Everyone clams up at first,” Hemp said, “but after a day or two, people start to loosen up and get in the groove.”

Workshop participants will also get the chance to loosen up some muscles by helping sail the ship, owned by Sound Experience, an environmental education organization.

“We plan to go on a one day-sail, maybe two,” said Geoff Ball, executive director.

“They’ll be learning sea chanteys, because that’s the way we keep rhythm to raise the sails, some navigation, basic seamanship — and they’ll get a chance to drive the boat.

“It’s very participatory.”

THE PUBLIC IS invited to hear Connecting Chord poets read their work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25, at the Pope Marine Building, Water and Madison streets, Port Townsend.

The program is free and open to the public.

For more information, call Christine Hemp at 360-385-9005 or go to www.christinehemp.com.

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