In M NourbeSe Philip’s ZONG!, Philip depicts the Zong Massacre using language from a selective bank: the language surrounding Gregson v. Gilbert, a law case which brought attention to the mistreatment of slaves. Much like Philip, I sought to create a poem inspired by another archival document. For this project, I will be using two archival documents, both of which are related to my experience involved in a bomb threat at school.
Part I : Archival Documents
The first document for this project is a booklet titles, Active Shooter and How to Respond from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This booklet is about three years old and details on how to respond and cope to an active shooter. Sourced directly from the NARA, there is little to no context to grab onto to search for the history of this document. The NARA is a collective archive that keeps record of documents created by the US Federal government. This collection includes court records, censuses, help in genealogy research, and more. I chose this document because the contents of this document is similar to what my school taught me. My high school taught my class to hide in the corner of the room if an active shooter were present. After the Sandy Hook school shooting, my school shifted to the ALICE Training Solution. Contrary to hiding in the corner, ALICE opts to prepare students to actively respond to the shooter by barricading doors, tackling the intruder, and guarding your body. The NARA’s booklet combined these two tactics and suggested to either run, hide, or fight. This document adds a professional and logistical point of view to my word bank.
The second document for this project is Mark Obmascik’s article Through the Eyes of Survivors from the Denver Post’s Columbine archive which recounted Lance Kirklin’s experience during the Columbine High School shooting. Lance Kirklin is a victim of the Columbine shooting and has recovered from the five gunshot wounds fired onto him. This document is one of many articles written by The Denver Post from April to June 1999. Similar to the Columbine shooting, my experience hosted both threats of a bomb and an active shooter. Therefore, I chose this document to utilize a first person’s point of view of an active shooter incident.
Part II : My Experience
On May 4, 2017, my school, Chagrin Falls High School, suffered a bomb threat. The night before, rumors surfaced on social media of a possible bomb threat at the school. Having police present throughout the day, school ended with no sign of danger. It was the day before the AP US History exam, so my friends and I had decided to stay after school and review for the exam, just as we did everyday that week. I remember the P.A. system announcing everyone to calmly evacuate the building and adjourn at the football field – so we left the building. Once we stepped outside two police cars drove up the the entrance. The sirens were not on so we did not think much of it. As we crossed the parking lot towards the field, a couple baseball players ran by joking that the teacher who quit days earlier had returned with a gun. None of my friends heard what they said, but once we got onto the field, the next thing we heard was “Run! He’s got a gun!” and everyone started running. People from sports practices, club meetings, and students who stayed after school ended grouped together at the bleachers. None of us knew exactly what was happening we just knew to continue running to the neighboring Catholic school. When the dust settled, only a picture of a bomb was found. No bomb. No gun. Just rumors.
Part III : Poem Curation
A fun fact about me is that I actually enjoy poetry. For this assignment, I plan on curating two poems. These poems will be remixes of the two documents I selected, each with a different approach.
Part IV : Let the Remixing Begin
Escape or evacuate?
Run, quick, run
Follow the instructions, but what instructions?
A suburban high school and we’re just teenagers.
My heart in my stomach and my eyes racing.
Do I stay low? Is it a bomb? Breath.
The two boys laughed and my safety are shattered.
Lights of red and blue flash from all around.
Part V : Cheese
Yes – cheese. My second remixed poem is formed using good ole Swiss cheese. Okay, okay, let me explain. On Tik Tok, a popular social media platform, there is an influencer @kessel_nathan_official who throws a slice of cheese on a paper and reads the words revealed in the holes of the cheese. Somehow comprehensive sentences are produced so I attempted this on my own archival documents. I printed both documents and bought some Swiss cheese. I them threw a slice of cheese onto the documents and recorded which words were revealed. To be honest, this took many trials. The cheese holes don’t always land perfectly on top of a word, but I had fun in the process.
A Gunman? Impossible.
Hide beneath the tables and hope he’s not pointed at you.
The black duffel he brought, bullets fly
Scooting through down the stairway, don’t end up dead
911 officers wearing kevlar vests, only a shirt to protect me.
Commands shouting, I can’t breath.
Quick! Don’t be found. Don’t be a picture on the news tomorrow.
An active shooter, bombed, killers,
Hit with fear, remain calm
ESCAPE … Escape … quiet … reason with him
Talk to him like earlier when your heart beated with time.