Poety and Youth

Last weekend, I did a reading and Q and A at the Vintage Theater with other local published authors (thank you to everyone who came out!). One of the questions we were asked is how we got started. Just about everyone on stage stated that we started writing in high school, due to a writing class we had with a supportive teacher.

I had a wonderful teacher in 9th and 12th grades, Mrs. James, who pushed me to continue writing poetry and crafting articles for the newspaper. When I arrived at West Chester University, I had two phenomenal creative writing workshops with Kate Northrop, who constantly challenged and pushed the students, making our critiques of each other’s work stronger. Even more importantly, she recommended to us different poets to read based on our style. I’m still grateful to her for lending me books by Mark Strand and Charles Simic when I was trying to write imagistic lines.

I mention all of this because young writers need encouragement and support. I never would have become a poet without that. One of the teachers at the Tunkhannock Area School District is trying to provide such support to her students and bring more poetry into her classroom. High school English teacher Katie Watkins Wisnosky has launched what she dubs “Breaking Ground Poetry SLAM” for her students at Tunkhannock. This Saturday, from 6-9, they will read at the Vintage Theater in Scranton. Before they take the stage, Lauren Zuniga, a nationally touring SLAM poet, will perform a 30-minute set. Zuniga is currently ranked in the top 5 female slams poets from the 2012 Women of the World Poetry Slam. She is the founder of Oklahoma Young Writers and the 2012 Activist-in-Residence at the University of Oklahoma.

For more information on this event and Wisnosky’s efforts to bring more poetry and creativity to her classroom, check out this article from The Scranton Times.

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