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A perfect way to celebrate a unit on poetry?  A Poetry Café!  A rearranged library to create a more intimate atmosphere, blackout poetry on display, a small fare of fruit, sweets and drink, a podium with microphone, and two special guest speakers….. all the right sparks to create this event for CMS eighth graders by their language arts teachers, Davis and Latriano.  Jessica Jacobs of Asheville, winner of the New Mexico Award in Poetry, began by talking about her growing up years and read, “What a Florida Child Knows”.  She explained how her own poetry writing gained inspiration from the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe and, while spending time in the desert, wrote the poetry book, Pelvis with Distance.  Jacobs’ other works have appeared in the Missouri Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Oxford American, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series. In between speakers, and in keeping with the creative adventure of a poetry café, Canton Middle School students took to the mic and shared their own favorite poem from either another author or one from their own creation.  This was followed by the second featured speaker for the day, Garret Woodward of Waynesville. Woodward is currently a writer for the Smoky Mountain News, a freelance journalist for other publications around the country, and winner of the 2015 North Carolina Press Association award for “Arts and Entertainment Reporting” for his cover story “Bless Your Heart-The State of Women in Bluegrass”.  He is also a published poet of the book Dreams We Lost and a current book, If you Can’t Play, Get Off the Stage. His inspiration for writing came from a book entitled, On The Road by Jack Kerouac.  After sharing their own personal favorite poems, each speaker had a special activity to involve students in the creation of poetry, demonstrating that where you live and the experiences you have can easily inspire and foster material for your own creative work.


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