For the past five years, Steve Replogle has accepted the writings and art work of K-5 students & published them. It's an idea that started with his own fourth-grade students at Bromwell Elementary. Replogle was eager to try it out on a city-wide level with the help of grant funding from DPS.
Going through every entry, Replogle has learned that good poetry can be written at any age.
"I've learned that a first grader is able to offer important lessons to a fourth grader, just as a fifth grader has much to share about kindergarten life."
The diversity of Denver is reflected in the newly published "A Poem Knows," but the pieces fit well together and are connected through themes.
"Through their writings, Denver students reveal how much they have in common," Replogle said. "They have become united in this book as a community of poets. What is life like for our elementary students and their families? What are their celebrations, their struggles, their dreams? A poem knows."
Every year, Replogle receives poems from children who have experienced loss. The words of then-third grader Evely Martinez really stood out to him.
Mom, I wrote your name in the clouds
but the wind blew it away
I wrote your name in the sand
but the ocean washed it away
I wrote your name on my test
but the teacher took it away
I wrote your name on the snow
and the sun melted it away
I wrote your name in my heart
and forever it will stay
When I go to heaven with you
Nobody will take it away.
Evely Martinez attends the Math and Science Leadership Academy but still makes the time to work on her writing.
Orlando Villagrana, who also attends MSLA wrote a poem about a scratchy situation:
Just like a flea jumping on a dog
scratch around my body
I wish I were not sick
I wish I could stick
them on my sister's face
just like stickers!
Benjamin Medina decided to write a clever poem about his poem "disappearing."
I sat down to write a poem
but wondered how to feed him.
I tried to feed him letters
but he made me erase the letters.
So I introduced him to rhyme
so now he'll listen to me in time!
But then my dog ate my poem.
Now I have to write
my poem all over again!
Replogle beams when he thinks of how proud these students are to see their words printed and to read them aloud from a book.
"The series has published poems and artwork from 1,500 students. That's a lot of children! Once upon a time, they were happy to find themselves as published poets, applauded at our receptions and celebrated by their communities. Many of those students are now in high school and preparing to go to college. It may not be long until they begin to publish books of their own."
For more on the pieces in "A Poem Knows" & the previous anthologies comprised by DPS students: http://dpselementarypoetry.wikispaces.com/
"A Poem Knows" can be purchased at The Bookies and the Tattered Cover.
Copies will also be available at a reception tonight 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Denver School of the Arts, 7111 East Montview Blvd.