A prize-winning poet is encouraging Lawrence students and teachers to write poetry.
Johanna Carttar is feeling inspired about poetry these days.
The source of her inspiration is a poet who's teaching in Lawrence schools through next Thursday.
Johanna, 12, is so full of poetry that she thinks she'll continue to write once poet Sandy Lyne leaves Lawrence.
"I might even be a poet when I grow up," the Central Junior High seventh-grader said, pausing for a moment from writing verse in her writer's journal.
During separate sessions with seventh- and ninth-graders at Central, Lyne provided a framework within which the students could write poetry. In handouts, he lists examples of different types of poems. He provides students with groups of four words that they choose from to use in their poems.
Some other students struggled with their writing during class time. But Lyne expected the Central students to have three poems completed by the following day.
For Casey Dupere, 12, writer's block was not an issue. She'd completed three poems before Lyne had ended his instructions.
"It's not boring in here," said Casey, who had a poem published last year in the Anthology of Poetry for Young Americans. "It's interesting. I like poems."
She prefers poetry to books. The brevity of poems appeals to her.
Since 1983, Lyne has worked with students and teachers across the nation. This is his second visit to Lawrence. His periodic visits, which will stretch over six years, are the result of a business-education partnership of the school district, Mercantile Bank of Lawrence and the Lied Center.
While here, Lyne is working with students, teachers and parents. Later this year, the business education partnership will publish an anthology of poems written during Lyne's stay.
As he works with students, Lyne steps carefully around egos.
"He finds something to praise in everything that is shared," said ninth-grade English teacher Sarah Magnuson. "He never says anything negative. ... I have kids I thought would never be writing, but they are."
Two ninth-graders, Rolanda Thomas, 15, and Akua Crum, 14, said they've learned a great deal about poetry from Lyne. And one of the most important lessons they've learned is not to fear it.
"Since I started, and I know more about it, it makes me want to do it more," Rolanda said.
But working with a man who is a prize-winning poet can be daunting for teen-agers.
"It kind of makes me nervous," Rolanda said, "because he's a real poet."