The Power of Words

  • Wick Poetry fellow Sony Ton-Aime explains the process of making a blackout poem to Jamestown High School students during a CLSC Young Readers Program event in the Poetry Makerspace, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. BRIAN HAYES/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

“I am offering this poem to you, since I have nothing else to give,” read Vanessa DeStevens, a Jamestown High School student, on the steps of the Colonnade. The words, written by Jimmy Santiago Baca, rang out from the blue-haired DeStevens with palpable emotion.

Jamestown High School students visited the Poetry Makerspace on Wednesday to learn about poetry as part of both the CLSC Young Readers program and a new event called Stanzas on the Plaza. Several students had the opportunity to read poems to a crowd.

The Poetry Makerspace currently houses the Traveling Stanzas exhibit from Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center.

The exhibit allows people to experience poetry in an accessible and tactile way, with iPads that let guests create blackout poems and word blocks to display on the wall.

“It’s a great opportunity to write poetry,” said Linda Poelma, a Chautauquan. “It’s difficult and I never liked it. But this sounds fun to me. I’ll try it.”

Chautauqua Literary Arts is also reaching out to area high school students, so they have an opportunity to experience the Makerspace, something they would not get to do in a classroom.

Poetry was something Anthony Weber, a sophomore at Jamestown High School thought about before, but this year those thoughts were much stronger. Weber credits his teachers with introducing him to the programs at Chautauqua.

Poetry has given Weber and many high school students like him an outlet for their thoughts and emotions.

“It helps me talk about my feelings in a different form,” Weber said.

Tags : ChautauquaJamestown High Schoolkent state universityPoetry MakerspaceTraveling StanzasWick Poetry Center

The author Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes is a rising senior from Wichita State University. Yes, the Wichita State. He is a photojournalist with a passion for telling human stories through photos and videos. He is the photo editor for the student-run newspaper, The Sunflower. He is also a freelance photographer for several papers in Kansas. In his free time, he likes to teach and take photos. It’s basically all he knows.