Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

In their own voices

Poet returns to Lawrence to celebrate release of collection featuring budding student writers

October 31, 2004


Suzy Allen was only in sixth grade when she wrote her poem "Grandfather's Tales." So it came as a shock to the Lawrence High School senior when she found out this year that her work would be published in a poetry compilation.

"I never expected to see my words in print," she says. "It was an honor."

Allen's poem, along with about 25 others written by students from Lawrence schools, appears in Sandy Lyne's new book, "Soft Hay Will Catch You: Poems by Young People." The book features a selection of poems created during Lyne's poetry workshops, which are presented as part of the John F. Kennedy Center's Arts in Education program.

Allen recalls how Lyne, a professional poetry teacher, first taught her to write poems.

"He had a method to teach you to write," Allen says. "We took random groups of words and tried to compose a poem that had substance. It helps you get a base and then branch out."

Lyne came to Lawrence every year for five years starting in 1995. During that time, he visited the classroom of every sixth-grade teacher and worked with hundreds of Lawrence students. Lyne also conducted teacher workshops to help educators incorporate poetry writing into the English curriculum.

"Poetry is an essential part of teaching English," Lyne says. "More than anything, it demonstrates to students they have a unique voice in writing.

"It also validates their personal stories in the great story of life. And it almost always raises self-image and self-esteem."

Working with children is one of Lyne's passions because they can be incredibly profound, he says.

A public reception and book signing to celebrate the release of "Soft Hay Will Catch You: Poems by Young People," which was compiled by poet Sandy Lyne and features the poetry of Lawrence students, will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.Lyne will conduct poetry workshops for students in grades five through 12 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday. The workshops will be at Lawrence school district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

"I like their freshness and originality," Lyne says. "They're open to trying new things, and they're usually surprised to find that they have a poet inside of them."

Lyne will return to Lawrence this week to again impart his passion for poetry to the youth of the Lawrence school district. In addition to visiting schools, Lyne will teach two poetry workshops.

The first, a new workshop titled "Skinny Odes: Poems of Praise and Celebration," will be from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. The workshop is designed for grades five through 12 and was recently presented at the Kennedy Center Arts Center/Schools Partnership meeting in Washington, D.C.

Lyne also will repeat his original poetry workshop, "Writing Poetry; Every Student Can," from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at district headquarters.

To celebrate the release of "Soft Hay Will Catch You," the Lawrence Arts Center will have a public reception and book signing from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the center, 940 N.H.

Lyne said he was excited to return to Lawrence. Of all the places he has been for poetry workshops, Lawrence is one of only two places he has considered living.

"I love the people and the community," he said. "When I left Washington, D.C., I wanted to move to either Lafayette, Louisiana, or Lawrence.

"I ended up in Louisiana, but I would have been just as happy living in Lawrence."

The following poems by Lawrence students are featured in "Soft Hay Will Catch You," a new collection of poems compiled by visiting poet Sandy Lyne:Grandfather's TalesBy Suzy AllenAs I sit on my grandfather's lap,I listen to his intriguing tales.He talks of when he was a warriorand hunted bison on the flat mesas.I think he misses those days,but now he can relive them,telling stories to his grandchildA Lonely DayBy Bret RobinsonThe dragonfly flies silentlyover the still pond,his face expressionless.I wonder,has he ever cried?The Poem's WayBy Aaron TrentPoems have a way with me.They love to tease my brain.A small nibble is all I get,for they have gone againto the deepest, darkest spotwhere even I,the poet of the poem,cannot reach.The Magic TouchBy Andrew McKeeI cut through the cold blast of airto the barn, warm with a herd of cows,the white snow pounding mewith the blackness of winter.I tread to the barnand feed the newborn calves,feeling their warm, rough tongues overmy bitterly cold hand.

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