One of the best parts about writing for children is getting to visit with them and talk to them about writing! For the last 5 years, I’ve been going to St. John the Baptist school in Vermillion, MN as a guest poet on their special afternoon celebration called “Poetry Pause”.
Over the years, I’ve taken a variety of props to help me illustrate how awesome poetry is. One year, I took my mom’s dog, Max, dressed in an argyle sweater. Another year, I took my guitar and did my best American Idol impersonation by singing them poetry about unrequited forth-grade love and wedgy-giving, older brothers. I’ve even embarrassed myself by revealing my 5th grade school picture…ginormous glasses covering most of my face, huge 80’s permed hair with the bangs that start in the middle of my head and puffed above my un-plucked eyebrows like a wad of ash-blonde cotton candy…it wasn’t pretty, and the kids didn’t believe me when I told them that was all VERY cool back in the day.
This year, instead of a prop or embarrassing photo, I took my dear friend Quinette Cook. Quinette is a wonderful poet, and I’ve been so busy writing paranormal stuff for teens and movies for adults, that I felt a little out of my element this year going to represent my community of poetic writers. I did, however, pen a poem just for St. John’s that I read for them. Then I told them about my ghost hunting and my son’s zombie movie before handing the microphone over to Quinette.
The best part of the afternoon is always watching the kids stand in front of their schoolmates, teachers and parents reciting their favorite poetry (sometimes with their own props). The fifth graders wowed us with a musical poetic presentation complete with percussion, an acoustic guitar and a violin (all being played by students). And some of those brave, little writers actually read their own, original works of poetry.
Mrs. Kristoff, the teacher at St. John’s who has coordinated this event each year, does such a wonderful job of pulling her entire school together to pause and celebrate poetry. I applaud all the teachers and staff who make this happen each year. It’s always such an honor to be a part of their assembly.