It’s Poem in Your Pocket Day!

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by Adam Schneck, sophomore writing coach

April is national poetry month, and on April 27, schools and workplaces around the country celebrated Poem in Your Pocket Day, a day for carrying poems and sharing them with friends!

Poem in Your Pocket Day originated in 2002 in New York City, but since 2008, people from all 50 states have joined in with the fun tradition, spending the day sharing pieces of writing with others. The best part is that there are no rules when it comes to the poem you choose. As long as it stays appropriate for the setting you are in, sharing a sentimental poem, a funny poem, or whatever type of poem you want to share, is up to you. Although this national holiday isn’t something that everyone takes part in, it’s a great chance to read a piece of poetry that either you or others might enjoy, and have fun while doing it. Hopefully, just taking a minute to read a poem to a friend, coworker, or classmate can take some of the stress out of your day.

Here at Minnetonka High School, the late start on April 27 meant we pushed Poem in Your Pocket Day back a day in order to cherish and celebrate this holiday more fully. Each year the Writing Center plays a huge part in the organization and success of the school’s Poem in Your Pocket Day by hosting a school wide poem giveaway and putting together a prize raffle for those who’ve read poetry to any of their teachers and classes. Staff and students can both get in on the fun!

Poem in Your Pocket Day is such creative and unique way to share writing with others and brighten up someone’s day. The more poems you read, the more you enjoy yourself; and who knows, it might even become your new favorite holiday!

New semester…new you?

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by Anna Barnard, senior writing coach and Writing it Out co-editor

The new year has been gladly ushered in, and many resolutions have long been forgotten in the 12 days since the year began. For us students, we’re reaching a new beginning as well: finals are approaching, and with them, second semester. As we schedule our lives around our school days and class work, the start of the second half of the year may be even more distinct for some of us than the new year itself.

Despite this, we are realizing that we still have a whole half of a year left. For some, this is cause for celebration; for others, a daunting time period. The middle of the year is a place where some of us may feel stuck: bored with our day-to-day routine, tired of Minnesota’s cold, gray winter…I know that I feel this way.

What’s helping me approach second semester with a better attitude, then? Drawing back to my first few thoughts, I’ve decided to look at this midpoint as having potential for new opportunities and experiences. If you’re taking a new class second semester, be enthusiastic about your chance to learn some new material. If not, look for something new to do: you could develop a new habit of journaling, start volunteering somewhere new, or simply get a new haircut. The bottom line is to switch things up, and to create some variety in your life. I’m confident that it’ll give you a little boost going into part 2 of this year.

For some inspiration, I leave you with a poem:

New Things Are Best by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

What shall I tell you, child, in this new Sonnet?

Life’s art is to forget, and last year’s sowing

Cast in Time’s furrow with the storm winds blowing

Bears me a wild crop with strange fancies on it.

Last year I wore your sole rose in my bonnet.

This year — who knows — who, even the All-knowing,

What to my vagrant heart, for its undoing,

Of weeds shall blossom ere my tears atone it?

— New Spring is in the air with new desirings;

New wonders fructify Earth, Sea, and Heaven,

And happy birds sing loud from a new nest.

Ah, why then grieve Love’s recreant aspirings,

His last year’s hopes, his vows forgot, forgiven?

Child, be we comforted! New things are best.

Vocalize Kind

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By Gigi Anderson, senior writing coach

Sometimes when we are bombarded with the stresses of school and family and looking ahead to the future, our words turn negative. We use our language to offend rather than uplift. And, thus, we hurt those around us. Those we love, and those we don’t even know. I wrote this spoken word poem with the hope of challenging us to use our words in a more positive manner. We all face hardship and frustration, sometimes without even showing it to those around us. But maybe if we use our words to encourage one another, we can aid each other even in our hidden battles. Enjoy!

Click here to view spoken word poem:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep”, (because of the Earth’s axis tilt which is causing the frigid weather and shorter days.)

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from socialpowerhour.com

by Morgan Erickson, senior writing coach

I’ve been so fortunate to take a course in Astronomy and Physics through the PSEO program. As I learn how the solar system works, it has been interesting to see how these seemingly small changes, such as how the Earth is positioned, completely affect the seasons, the weather, and the length of days. Recently, we covered how seasonal change occurs. Throughout the year, Earth rotates around the Sun on an ecliptic plane. The days become shorter as school begins because we are exposed to lessening amounts of sunlight due to this angle that the Earth rotates at.

As we enter a new school year, I am beginning to think more and more about how these minuscule changes are affecting my life. More specifically: my writing process. These short fall days that turn into brisk winter mornings infallibly turn my language into something staccato and then increasingly somber as we receive the least amount of sunlight throughout the year. However, I began to wonder if this change was apparent in other author’s’ work as well.

Robert Frost, a favorite poet of mine, shows this transition from fall to winter through imagery and diction quite well. For example, in one of his poems titles, “After Apple-Picking”, Frost’s language choice reflects the crisp, cool nature of autumn. In the opening line, Frost states “My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree”. Here, a reader can relish in the literal image of a ladder through a tree on a crisp, autumn morning. However, Frost never states that leaves are crunchy or the weather is becoming cooler. By using words with many hard syllables, such as “pointed” and “sticking” the diction is able to convey sounds and feelings that the literal line of imagery cannot.

As Frost progresses through the season his word choice and imagery reflect a cooler, darker season. Perhaps his words are more somber as a result of the lessening amounts of daylight he is accustomed to feeling.  The closing line of “After Apple-Picking” contrasts the opening in diction as well as imagery by describing the coming winter as “Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, or just some human sleep”. Here, syllables are softer and the actions taking place within the line are far less active than the beginning. Perhaps we are wired to feel as though winter is a time for rejuvenation or hibernation because winter days receive the least amount of sunlight.

As I continue developing as a writer, it is interesting to see how my environment has such a great impact on all aspects of my writing. It’s important that we expand the way that we see ourselves as writers to avoid the monotony of academic writing that is so easy to fall into as the school year progresses. As you settle into a new school year, an upcoming season of your favorite TV show, and the Pumpkin Spiced Latte, I encourage you to find new ways to view your writing process and consider alternate perspectives.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171621

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173523

Spoken word: Not just hipsters snapping in the dark

The twinkling lights and podium of Writer's Studio is just one atmosphere in which spoken word poetry takes place. Photo by Anna Weber.

The twinkling lights and podium of Writer’s Studio is just one atmosphere in which spoken word poetry takes place. Photo by Anna Weber.

By Connor Erb, Sophomore Writing Coach

Have you ever wondered what exactly is spoken word poetry? Maybe you just read that sentence and have never heard of spoken word. Well, I’m here to shed some light on the subject of what in the world spoken word poetry is. What makes a spoken word poetry piece by Guante different from a classical Walt Whitman piece? They’re both poetry, right? That fact hasn’t changed, but there is something inherently different between the two forms of writing, just like science fiction is different from flash fiction.

First off, spoken word poetry is a form of poetry that is performed by speaking the words of the poem to the audience. Well, obviously. What I am trying to say is that the poem is written with the performance in mind. A spoken word piece is usually accompanied with actions and has the feeling of a rhythm when it’s performed. This makes spoken word very different than your everyday “roses are red, violets are blue” poetry. Walt Whitman wrote for the page, but spoken word poets write for the stage. (That was a cheesy sentence, but it’s true).  During our Guante Day” (when Guante came to give workshops in several of our english classes and gave a workshop after school), he discussed how important the performance of spoken word is. It’s a much different experience to watch a spoken word performance when compared to reading a poem on paper. In a spoken word performance, you’re able to see and hear the performer. Their facial expressions, movements, and eyes are all a part of the poem itself. You listen, unable to read the stanzas or organization of the poem, and soak in the performance as the whole.

A second characteristic of many spoken word poems is their marked purpose. Spoken word poems often point out things that people believe in, and many show the injustice of our culture and world. For example, Guante (a guest at the upcoming Off the Page event),  has a poem called “The Family Business” (which you can watch below) about working class exploitation. But spoken word doesn’t often just come out and scream in your face about injustice. Guante uses the metaphor of chess to talk about working class exploitation, and many other great artists use concrete objects to talk about abstract ideas. This type of poetry talks about matters including love, hate, addiction, and more through unique angles, and that has to be my favorite part about spoken word- the interesting metaphors that people utilize to discuss topics in new, meaningful ways that people have written about for centuries.. For example, a spoken word poem  by local Twin Cities poet Shane Hawley has the narrator of Wiley E. Coyote, but talks about addiction. That’s spoken word for you: unexpected, but effective. After listening to spoken word poetry, I can guarantee that you’ll want to learn more about various causes and that you’ll be inspired to make real change in the world.

This new form of poetry has brought the love of reading and writing poetry to a new generation of young poets. It only takes one night at our Black Box at our Writer’s Studio event to see that poetry is alive and thriving in our high school and hopefully around the world. I get it when people say, “Oh, poetry. You mean that crazy, love-gooey stuff people write around Valentine’s Day. I’m not really into that sort of thing,” and then never speak to you again because they think you’re a nut. (I’ve never had that happen to me personally, but I bet it has happened to many a poetry fanatic.)

I think that many people have preconceived notions about poetry that prevent them from giving it a chance. At first, even I, Connor Erb, was a skeptic. I thought my sister was a book-crazy, delirious senior that just wanted to be artsy for liking spoken word poetry.  I thought that spoken word only occurred in dark rooms where people gathered to share poetry about how life has no meaning, and people snapped and nodded somberly at the end of poems.  I have no idea why I thought that’s what it was like. I was pleasantly surprised to find that at Writer’s Studio, the only similarity between my idea and reality was that the room was dimly lit.

So, no matter what your preconceived notions about spoken word poetry are, give it a chance. Google “spoken word poetry” and watch a few performances on YouTube. Attend a Writer’s Studio (you can come to listen and applaud, or write your own pieces and perform them). Pick up a flyer in the Writing Center on spoken word events and opportunities in the Twin Cities. Join spoken word poetry club. I promise that there’s a spoken word poem waiting out there that will speak to you.