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Archive for Thursday, October 15, 1998

POET LENDS WORDS OF WISDOM TO STUDENTS

October 15, 1998

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Poet Sandy Lyne shares his skills with Lawrence school students through Oct. 28.

Give Sandy Lyne four simple words and he can sew them into a cerebral tapestry.

For Lyne, a nationally recognized poet, words are a form of self-expression. But rather than keep them to himself, he shares his thoughts with the world.

He wants others to do the same.

``Poetry is the principle tool for self knowledge,'' Lyne said. ``Writing is listening, and the person you're listening to is yourself.''

Lyne is conducting a poetry workshop in Lawrence schools through Oct. 28. It's the fifth and final year of a program that has brought the Maryland native to Lawrence, through the Partners in Imagination program.

The program is designed to enhance reading, writing and critical-thinking skills for students and additional language arts skills for students, teachers and parents. The business-education partnership that brought Lyne to Lawrence includes the Lied Center, Mercantile Bank and Lawrence public schools.

``I want to provide (students) with starting places for their own poetic voice,'' Lyne said. ``When we write poetry we use our memory, imagination, wisdom, experience and symbolic conscience. It turns our life into meaning.''

Lyne, who began writing poetry 35 years ago at the age of 18, likens writing to fishing.

``You don't so much write a poem as catch it,'' he said. ``You have to have the right bait, and you have to be still so you don't scare the poems away.

``Some you catch right away. Some take longer, and sometimes you don't catch anything. It's trial and error.''

Lyne's techniques work for adult writers as well as children.

The key to any successful poetry writer is honesty, he said.

``A poem is a fingerprint of your soul,'' he said. ``Poets write about things that are important to them.''

Lyne encourages his students to write about things they know or emotions they have, and to use free-verse form rather than trying to rhyme.

Some of the most prolific poems are written by children who are trying their hand at the art for the first time, he said.

``I've found that kids everywhere have so much to say,'' he said.

Lyne conducted a mini workshop for teachers Wednesday at the Lied Center.

Kennedy sixth-grade teacher Gaylen Quinn put his thoughts on paper after watching Lyne work in his classroom last week.

``He's awesome,'' Quinn said. ``He comes in and immediately gets them thinking. It's very relaxing, and kids immediately respond.''

Quinn said the poems his students wrote were highly creative.

``They were incredible,'' he said. ``Before they realize what they're doing, they've written three poems.''

Lyne, who will return next year to Lawrence for follow-up visits, is the founder and director of the Inner Writer Program and has taught poetry writing at the University of Virginia, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and in schools across the country.

His works have appeared in American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly and Ploughshares.

He recently moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Lafayette, La.

-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is jwatson@ljworld.com.

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