Blair Poets

May 2, 2005, midnight | By Elizabeth Packer | 17 years, 7 months ago

Poetry. The tangible expression of thought. Eloquence conveyed with a few well-chosen words. Images brought to life by metaphors and similes. Like exploring unfamiliar seas, the waters of poetry run deep, their beauty often concealed beneath waves of ambiguity. And for these poets, prolific and proficient, filling journals with rhymes, performing for crowds, publishing poems for all to see - it's their passion.

Anitra Turner

Even though senior Anitra Turner has a reputation for being silly, her poetry is no laughing matter. "When it comes to poetry, people are going to know that I'm Anitra, and I have talent," she proclaims. After being inspired by her grandmother's poetry, Turner began writing poems about national issues, as well as less serious poems about everyday life. Even more than writing, Turner loves to perform. Whereas some poets try to conceal their meaning beneath metaphors and figurative language, Turner prefers to be blunt. "When I say a poem, I like saying the truth - even if the audience doesn't want to hear it, " she says. In an untitled poem that is both searing and rhythmic, Turner expresses her frustrations about the state of our nation:

"In the ghetto there's a young man
who has given up hope
he finding his way by selling dope
and yes that's the way it has to be in America
the land of the free."

Turner views poems as speeches that have the ability to impact people. "If I change one kid's life with a poem, then it's all worth it, " she says.

Gillian Couchman

Junior Gillian Couchman finds beauty in the simple arrangement of words. "People don't usually notice how pretty [poetry] can be. Teens, especially, often don't take the time to appreciate poetry, or they have the generalization that poetry is boring, " she explains as she tucks a strand of loose hair behind her ear. Couchman began writing poems about everyday experiences after receiving a journal in sixth grade. She soon found that through poetry, she could express her thoughts about feelings like love and happiness. Her poem, "Tonight, " conveys this with clarity:

"I am satisfied with who I am, I'm satisfied with my simple life,
my nagging parents and my dramatic teenage problems.
I don't care about tomorrow or next week, my worries have left me.
tonight everything seems perfect. "

Couchman found an outlet for her growing interest in poetry through Arts on the Block, a program that provides high school students in Montgomery County with on-the-job training in various forms of the arts. As a freshman, Couchman was paid to write poems that were then published in a booklet that was distributed among participants. After contributing to this program, Couchman began to write more frequently, as this helped to instill confidence in her writing ability. Building on this experience, Couchman says she "definitely plans to pursue some form of writing in college. "

Julia Leeman

For senior Julia Leeman, poetry is about images, colors and appealing to the senses. Leeman has published several poems in Blair's literary magazine, Silver Quill, of which she is currently layout editor, and has performed at an open-mic night at Mayorga Coffee House.

She enjoys using symbolism in her writing but, she says, "not [so] deep and profound that people can't access it. " Her poem to be published in this year's Silver Quill, "Crusader of Small Things," begins by describing an ordinary holiday decoration and then segues with whimsical imagery into the speaker's religious views:

"an inflatable snowman
invades the corner of my eye.
a lit
church billboard,
across the street,
mocks me.
I know
there is no god. don't
tempt me. "

Leeman feels that the power of poetry lies in its ability to "take little observations, little pieces of life, then show you" - she pauses to smile before adding, "this is really clichéd - beautiful angles of life."

Sasha Foreman

The passion for words began at a very young age for senior Sasha Foreman, whose mother recited poems to him before he could read. Since then, Foreman has had an insatiable desire to "learn everything I can about what interests me, like languages and poetry. " One of his recent poems, "Becoming an Émigré, " exhibits this love of words:

"You hurry down the changing beach
At evening when the vagrant sun
That rides the waves, seeking a shore,
May darken soon... "

Most teenagers don't share this passion for poetry, an unfortunate fact that Foreman attributes to "poets who tend to write in a manner that's `unintelligible.' " The meaning of a poem can often be lost underneath a blanket of flowery language, he says, making it "hard to read not only for teens but for anyone." Though he has filled several notebooks with both his poetry and other poems translated into English from languages like Russian and Spanish, Foreman doesn't have any plans to perform. "It's not that I'm afraid of hearing what people think of what I have to say," he says, "it's just that I don't write poems for others. I write them because I'd go insane if I didn't. "

Angela Cummings

A workshop in middle school opened junior Angela Cumming's eyes to the wonders of poetry. Since that first taste in eighth grade, Cummings has filled a journal with poems, performed at Mayorga's open-mic night and participated in Arts on the Block along with Couchman. As a writer, Cummings enjoys experimenting with different forms of poetry. "If I see a new poem form, I'll want to try it, " she says. Her current form of choice is the sestina, a poem with six stanzas and a complicated rhyme scheme. She also strives to avoid more conventional structures: "My poetry doesn't make any sense," she points out. "It's very abstract." While poetry can take effort to understand, she believes it can also be very therapeutic. "Poetry's a form of narcissism you can share with others, " she explains. "It reflects yourself, but it doesn't have to be blunt. You can use metaphors to get your message across, " she says. Her poem, "Old Enough to Know," demonstrates this approach:

"Gripping onto visions of life's stream with suffocating flow
The current's twisted draw seeping into minds too fatigued to care
Is there a path straight enough for us to go? "

April is National Poetry Month. Regardless of whether or not you know your metaphors from your similes or the difference between assonance and alliteration, there are plenty of ways for poetry buffs and neophytes alike to celebrate:

Put some poetry in an unexpected place - Leave a copy of a favorite poem for someone to find. Try tucking a poem into a friend's backpack or include a few lines for your teacher to find at the end of an assignment - an unexpected poem is sure to be a pleasant surprise for the lucky recipient.

Commit a poem to pavement - National Poetry Month is all about celebrating poetry, and a great way to do that is to share it with others. Break out a bucket of chalk and write a poem on the sidewalk. By putting a few lines of a favorite poem in a public place, everyone who passes by will be exposed to the wonders of poetry.

Check out a poetry book from the library - Whether re-reading a favorite book of poems or cracking open a volume of sonnets for the first time, now is a great time to start reading poetry.

Information compiled from The Academy of American Poets' "30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month"

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Elizabeth Packer. Elizabeth is a senior. She drinks a can of pineapple juice a day and absolutely loves playing the name game. She is on her way to greater things, most notably college. More »

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