Tuesday, April 7, 2015

National Poetry Month: Guest Blogger Lani Scozzari

Thank you to Lani Scozzari for today's great post: interviews with second and third graders about poetry and poetry writing. How wonderful to read their own words and ideas.

Lani Scozzari is a writer, long distance runner, mother, teacher and classically trained actor and dancer.   Publications of her poems and essays include The Cortland Review, Comstock Review, Midway Journal, Mom Egg Review, The Boiler Journal, many others as well as several anthologies. She is the recipient of a finalist award from The Massachusetts Cultural Council for her poetry in Ballet's Child. Many different writing conferences have awarded her with scholarships including The Frost Place, The Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and The Workshop for Publishing Poets. While earning her M.F.A. in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College, she served as the senior editor of their literary journal, Lumina. Currently, Scozzari teaches poetry and reading to elementary aged children She and her husband are raising their two young daughters in Tequesta, FL.

In honor of National Poetry month, I interviewed a group of 2nd and 3rd grade students at Turtle River Montessori School in Jupiter, FL.  I’ve been teaching Reading and Writing there for a few years.  When I presented the idea to the group, they were thrilled and suggested they come up with a list of possible questions and then I could decide which ones to ask. And they also decided it would be best if I only interviewed one person at a time so they could be more personal without being self conscious.  Yes, those are their exact words.  So that is just what I did.  They speak truth; it comes easily and without fear. We all can learn from their wisdom.

Lani Scozzari: How old are you?
Eden: I’m almost 9. I will be 9 in 26 days.
Lani Scozzari: Why did you start writing poetry?
Eden: I saw other people, friends around me and I thought, “I can do that.”
LS: Why is poetry important to you?
Eden: It makes me happy, the feelings and the words.
LS: What are the feelings?
Eden: Happiness, glad, sad, and brave. That is important.
LS: Is poetry important to the world:
Eden: Yes!
LS: Why?
Eden: The world needs poems to be alive.

LS: How old are you?
Ella:  I am 9.
LS: Who is your favorite poet?
Ella: Shel Silverstein because his poems make me giggle.
LS: Why is poetry important to you?
Ella: It helps calm me down when I’m would up. It makes me peaceful.
LS: Why is poetry important to the world?
Ella: Because it relaxes the world and it can make the world happy.
LS: When did you start writing?
Ella: In 1st grade and now I’m in 3rd.
LS: Why did you begin writing poetry?
Ella: I found a book of poems, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” in my grandmother’s old room. She was living with us and I liked the poems. I thought, “I can do this too.”
LS: Describe your poems.
Ella: I make them about what’s around me, about the world or random thoughts. Mostly they are the things in my head.
LS: Do you consider yourself a poet?
Ella: I was.
LS: Why not anymore?
Ella: I don’t take poetry anymore but I still do write poems when I’m in my house. Maybe I am still a poet…

LS: How old are you, Bella?
Bella: 9!
LS: Why is poetry important to the world?
Bella: It helps the world express its feelings.
LS: Are you a poet?
 Bella: Not really but I read poetry.
LS: What are you?
Bella: Probably a writer because I like to write. My mom is a publisher and I’d like to write a new series called, “Lizard in the Laundry Room.” It’s a nonfiction series.
LS: What do enjoy reading about?
Bella: Magic, adventure, and mysteries and also Shel Silverstein’s poem, “The Crocodile’s Toothache.” It’s very funny.

LS: Emily, how old are you?
Emily: I am 8.
LS: Is poetry important to you?
Ella: Yes, it’s a way for me to express my feeling through writing. You can send your feelings to somewhere or to someone else and you don’t have to be there. Just your words.
LS: Is poetry important to the world?
Emily: People want to write and poetry is a way to write whatever you want. It doesn’t have to rhyme—it can be whatever you want it to be.
LS: What is poetry?
Emily: Feelings on paper. It’s what you can do to get people to notice if you’re lonely or, if you’re sad you can write about something happy and you will feel better. It can do lots of different things.
LS: What kind of poetry do you like?
Emily: Haiku because with the order, you can make anything. Just 5, 7, 5 syllables and figure out what has what syllables and how the words work and fit together with the topic you’ve chosen.

LS: Jack, how old are you?
Jack: I’m 8 now.
LS: What is your favorite poem?
Jack: “Hippopotamus,” by Mary Pope Osbourne. It is in the book you gave me for my birthday a few years ago when I was in kindergarten. Don’t you remember? It’s so funny.
Ls: Yes, I do remember. What makes it a poem?
Jack: Umm…well, it sure looks and sounds like a poem!
LS: What do poems sound like?
Jack: Well, funny. I mean, some are funny. They are all different and different than just a story. They are usually shorter than a story but they can also tell a story too. The language sounds different.
LS: Are you a poet?
Jack: Umm… At school I do it, when you make us do it but I’m not sure yet if I am.
LS: So what are you?
Jack: A reader, I like reading poetry but not really writing it.
LS: Is poetry important to the world?
Jack: Yes, because it tells a story so we can learn and read. Stories, some of them teach us a lesson. Some of them teach us to be nice to each other—to not be greedy, what’s happening in the world—those kinds are true stories. And poems can be true.
LS: How does poetry make you feel?
Jack: Happy but sometimes it can make me sad, too. How the poem ends can change how I feel. I prefer happy endings.

LS: How old are you?
Malia: Umm… well, I’m about to turn 9. But I’m only 8.
LS: Are you a poet?
Malia: Well, I like to write poetry.
LS: About what?
Malia: Animals mostly.
LS: How do you find inspiration?
Malia: Whatever I’m thinking, I write.
LS: How does poetry make you feel?
Malia: Happy and creative, imaginative—both when I write and read it.
LS: Why’d you start writing poetry?
Malia: I started to take classes with you and that inspired me to write.
LS: Can all people write poetry?
Malia: Yes, if they put their mind to it.
LS: How would you learn to become a poet?
Malia: Reading other people’s poetry is a good idea and writing your own. You will get better and better.
LS: Why is poetry important to you?
Malia: Because I love to write it and it really make me think about more things. I’m able to imagine more.
LS: Is it important to the world?
Malia: Yeah, because you can let your imagination flow. If we didn’t use our imaginations, we wouldn’t have all the inventions we do now.

LS: How old are you?
Lily: I’m 8.
LS: What inspired you to write?
Lily: You did, Ms. Lani!  Don’t you remember?
LS: What did I say to you?
Lily: That poetry can express feelings.
LS: Is it important to you?
Lily: Yes, very much.
LS: What does it do for you?
Lily:  It helps me express how I feel. It makes me calm and poetry is anything I can let out.
LS: So, you’re a poet?
Lily: Yes!
LS: When did you become a poet?
Lily: Last year.
LS: Any favorite poem?
Lily: Of mine or someone else?
LS: How about yours?
Lily: I wrote a poem called, “The Mother Rose.” And that was my 1st or 2nd poem and I didn’t really know how to write but that inspired me to keep doing it. Since it was only my 1st or 2nd poem, I wasn’t sure I was supposed to write but it showed me I am.
LS: Why does the world need poetry?
Lily: If people want to write something alive it can be poetry. In poems you can write down anything.
LS: What would the world be like without poetry?
Lily: The world would just be angry because people couldn’t let their feelings out.
LS: How does it help us or teach us?
Lily: Whatever you want to do…if you don’t know about something you can just write about it and then you will learn from it.
LS: Are all people poets?
Lily: Yes, actually, they are. Maybe they don’t really know but each person has a special talent inside.
LS: Who is your favorite poet?
Lily:  Charles Dickens. He doesn’t use simple words and he’s not afraid to be complicated.

LS: How old are you?
Nibras: 7 years old and I’m in 2nd grade.
LS: Why is poetry important?
Nibras: Well, soon I’m going somewhere, Wisconsin and I need to write 100 poems and say them all on stage. Well, not exactly a stage and maybe I will only write 20 but I will be saying them in front of lots of people, mostly my family.
LS: When did you start writing?
Nibras: When I was 3 or 4 but I had sloppy handwriting but its gotten better and once it did I could write better poems when I was 5.
LS: What inspires you to write?
Nibras:  Well, one day I was at the park and I was bored. I saw someone writing poems. I asked her if I could see what she was writing and they were poems. It looked so fun I started writing more.
LS: What inspires you?
Nibras:  My feelings and my family.
LS: What kind of feelings?

Nibras: When I’m sad I write sad poems. When I’m happy I write happy poems.

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