Inspiring Young Poets

It was as a child that I fell in love with words. It began as a love affair of books. My father took me and my brother to the library weekly to check out new books. My favorites were the Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley Twins. Once a month, my Aunt Ann picked me and my little brother up, and we headed down Woodward Avenue to Red House Books. There, we explored the shelves of used paperbacks to add to our collection. I counted and cataloged my books. I read on the way home from school, at the dinner table and under my covers at night. Books were a free passport that allowed a little girl from a small town in Alabama to explore the world.

From reading grew a desire to create my own stories. I began writing my own versions of The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew. I migrated from short stories to poetry. By the time I was a high schooler, I was writing for the Youth section of my daily newspaper.

Now, as an adult, I love going back to schools and organizations that serve children to lead writing workshops. Child have a vivid imagination and a curiosity for creativity. They are not held back by the many of the confines that restrict adult writers. The above picture is of a writing workshop I led with some girls from Zion Lutheran Church. They had been using my book How to Create a World to write poems. I came in to help them write poems to celebrate their mothers for Mother’s Day.

Children of various abilities and interests should be encouraged to tap into their writing abilities. You never know which child will become the next Maya Angelou or Langston Hughes. Creativity must be cultivated. If you are a teacher or a leader of an after school program, I would love to come and share poetry with your students. You can invite me to lead a writing workshop here. You can also order my book How to Create a World and use in your classroom, your kitchen or your community organization.

Commemorating fallen soldiers

This past Memorial Day, I was invited to write and read an original poem commemorating the fallen soldiers of Elgin. This year marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day. To create this poem, I watched video interviews of WWII soldiers. This allowed me to get a sense of what it felt like for the men who fought on that day. I also did some basic research about D-Day.

The commemoration was organized by the city of Elgin and Elgin’s Patriotic Memorial Association. It was held at the Bluff City Cemetery. Before the event, I visited the cemetery a couple of times to get a feel for the location. I gathered names of soldiers from tombstones and incorporated them in the poem.

It was an honor to a part of the artistic expression of the event’s festivities.

Introducing Poetry Off the Page

One of my goals as Elgin’s Poet Laureate is making poetry accessible for folks. Combining my poems with visual art is the way I am achieving this goal. Poetry doesn’t have to be confined to books tucked in shelves, out of the sight of everyday. Now, they can placed on your bedroom wall, in your kitchen, your work work cubicle or even in your classroom.

Currently, I have done two poems in this series: “Pasadena Summer” and “Ode to Dr. King.” I’ll be releasing more throughout the year. You can order your copy here.