Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Poetry reading revealed creative road for middle school students

May 4, 2006

Suffice to say Eudora Middle School was well versed in ideas for National Poetry Month. I caught the very end of it in what amounted to a creative bang.

In an event organized by English teacher Bob Sailler and supported by the Eudora Middle School Booster Club, students put their own words in the spotlight.

It resulted in a few hours of poetry on a rainy Friday afternoon that would have made any beatnik's hand sore from snapping in appreciation.

Dozens of students took part by reading their own creations.

When finished, the entire group clapped, critiqued and asked questions.

The atmosphere had a hint of formality, with a stage set consisting of a podium, backdrop and floral arrangement ---- but the actual readings were free-spirited.

So free in fact, I found myself awestruck by the work of these youngsters.

I remember myself at that age, with more angst than not and more likely to flip through a comic book than scribble in a notebook.

I didn't start attempting to write poetry until I was in high school.

These kids got a head start.

From hearing their work, it's obvious some students discovered how writing could be an outlet for their intense emotions.

As expected, some plucked the heartstrings of middle school love, but others explored their relationship with siblings, parents and God.

Other students read pieces to make their classmates laugh, or indulge in a bit of fantasy.

Still others took their work in a different direction, and used poetry as a way to comment on society at large and speak to their burgeoning political beliefs.

All in all, the range of topics and emotions blew me away.

Once the nerves from public speaking melted away, I could hear the vocal emotion pour through almost every piece.

As varied as the topics were, so were the methods the students chose to deliver them.

The work spanned everything from rhyming couplets to free form to a few examples of tongue-in-cheek haiku.

Earlier in the school year, I had the chance to interview a group of students who formed their own writing club.

I feel events like this help fan the flames of those who have discovered writing and could spark a new generation of poets.

It could be a handy thing.

Having heard the poems, I get an idea of the pressures facing the modern middle school student.

They deal with stresses from parents, worries about popularity and the challenges of schoolwork.

With all those factors, it's easy to see how pressure could continually build in their lives.

By reading their own work at the end of National Poetry Month, it's good to see the students discovered they could do something on their own to release stress.

I've always marveled about how heightened language and poetry have transcended cultures and centuries.

It's great to see it can transcend age.

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