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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

LHS senior wins national recognition

April 17, 2002

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A romantic Lawrence High School student and a junior-high group of haiku novices are making their voices heard.

LHS senior Benet Magnuson's passionate poem was among six national winners in a poetry contest that attracted 2,000 entries.

Magnuson said he's never received a stirring letter from a long-lost lover, but his imaginative interpretation of that possibility won over judges in Weekly Reader magazine's poetry writing contest.

His 15-line, 88-word poem is titled "A Love Letter."

"It was from my imagination, but of course everything is from experience," he said.

Magnuson and the other national winners received $100.

Meanwhile, four West Junior High School eighth-graders were presented Tuesday with limited-edition printings of books containing their haiku writing.

Most haiku poems make do with three lines, and the traditional Japanese poetic form consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of five, seven and five syllables each.

The students  Hannah Zingre, Emma Brooke, Patrick Green, Karl McDonald  had their reflections on the significance of a tree's movement, a cardinal, the moon and snow included in the book.

Zingre's contribution: "A willow's branches. Whisper softly in the wind. Stories of its life."

And that of McDonald: "Walking down a path. Snow crunching beneath my feet. Joy overwhelms me."

Writing by the four West students and 16 other poets  most of them from Lawrence  was drawn from 600 entries for inclusion in a hand-printed, string-bound book published by Tim O'Brien, also of Lawrence.

O'Brien and his wife, Jenny, whose paintings illustrate the text, gave copies of the book to each of the students during a luncheon at West.

"Their work has a wide range of emotion," O'Brien said. "Because of your poems, there's a nice variety in the book."

Adding to the novelty of the project, O'Brien and fellow printer Tim Coughenour made only 101 copies of the haiku collection on a manual, hand-cranked press.

About 50 copies placed on sale recently at The Raven Bookstore, 8 E. Seventh St., sold quickly.

All the poetry was completed as part of regular class assignments. The students at West did their work in a seventh-grade class with English teacher Jackie Stafford.

"We did a lot of brainstorming before starting," she said. "I'm really proud of them."

Magnuson wrote his prize-winning verse in a creative writing class at LHS.

His initial attempts at poetry weren't of all-star caliber and won't see the light of day.

"The first poems I wrote for the class were completely horrible," he said. "Nobody gets to see those."

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