Hunched over his paper at his seat, the student called over the workshop volunteer. Expecting a simple query, she asked, “Yes?” “I don’t want to read my poem,” he said softly. “But you don’t have to; you can have someone else read it,” she reassured him. “ I don’t want anyone to read it,” he insisted. “Just think about it,” she said, as the next student stood up to read. She hoped. Then all except one had read. The teacher gently prodded the reluctant one, “You have to read it.” The student slowly took the long walk from the back of the classroom, and looking down, read his poem almost too softly to be heard. The room filled with enthusiastic applause. Everyone smiled.
Over three one-hour sessions in February, each of two classrooms at Traverse Heights Elementary received instruction and coaching on writing poetry. Taught by former Writer-in- Residence of Front Street Writers, Luke Dani Blue, students looked at poetry in a nontraditional way, opening up their thinking to what it could be. As poet Mike Delp stated in sessions last year, It is like a “movie in your head”, she explained to them. David Rowney, fifth grade teacher, and Denise Invester, who teaches a fourth/fifth grade class, generously opened up their classrooms for this experience. By the end of the three sessions, about 44 students had written a final draft, all were collected into a booklet for each student, and they proudly, sometimes shyly, read at the front of their classroom to their fellow students.