Pupils share poetry based on Harlem Renaissance

Brianna Anderson never thought of herself as a poet, but that changed the night of Feb. 7.

She was the first-place winner of the Monte Sano Elementary School's pupil poetry contest.

"I never really wrote a poem before. This was my first one," the 11-year-old said in reference to her composition, Don't Quit.

"I like writing freely, so I tried it," she said. "I want to write more poems now."

The contest was put on by the school's oratorical club with a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance.

During the tribute, club members recited poetry from some of the era's writers, including Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and Claude McKay.

They also presented a slide show on other figures from the era, including Alain Locke, Zora Neale Hurston and Marcus Garvey.

The tribute was a reflection of what the students are learning in class, said Andre Mountain, adviser to the club and a fifth-grade teacher.

"Because I teach language arts and social studies, I can tie the classes together. The students can learn about the history of the Harlem Renaissance, and also learn about the writings that came from the era. We call it linking the curriculum," he said.

After the tribute, Brianna and 24 other pupils had an opportunity to showcase their poetic skills. Many of them chose to recite original works, some of which contained serious or inspirational messages, while others were meant to entertain.

Master of ceremonies Travis Wright was impressed by the topics.

"Every piece of poetry is as unique as the person who wrote it," he said. "They came on stage and read their poems with confidence. They allowed us to see a part of them in their poetry."

Mr. Wright, who performs as a spoken-word artist under the name Brotha Trav, said the event showed pupils that they have options when it comes to presenting poetry.

"Many of the students are familiar with hip-hop or rap, but they don't realize that it is poetry put to music," he said. "This event is a way to show them that poetry can take on many forms and cover many topics."

The oratorical club plans several other events through the remainder of the school year.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.


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