Bringing poetry to youth
Jan 28, 2011 | 3664 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Left to right, Yvette Kidd, Allison Cantrell, Summer How, Shelby Harris, Amya Brown, and Montinae O’Neal enjoy new poetry books purchased with a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
Left to right, Yvette Kidd, Allison Cantrell, Summer How, Shelby Harris, Amya Brown, and Montinae O’Neal enjoy new poetry books purchased with a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
SYLACAUGA — Dollar General and the B. B. Comer Memorial Library are partnering to bring poetry to local youths. The program, “Poetry ‘N Youth” is being funded through a Youth Literacy Grant from Dollar General.

The purposes of the Dollar General grants are to provide funding to schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading.

“The Dollar General Literacy Foundation just made our goal a little easier to attain with a $2,300 grant to help over 60 middle school students from county and city learn about the beauty and versatility of poetry,” said Youth Services Director, Elaine Liveoak.

When Liveoak mentioned the grant at a recent Arts Council meeting, President Ted Spears said the news was “just wonderful.” The children’s librarians want young people to become aware of, and develop, a new appreciation for the poetry that surrounds them in their daily lives. The grant will provide the library with presenters and new books.

“The grant will add a new dimension to Comer Library’s “Poetry ‘N Youth” project by helping provide some of the best presenters and a number of beautiful new books to create settings where the kids can see poetry in a whole new light,” Liveoak said.

She also said the BRIDGES after school program will benefit from the poetry program. The purpose of BRIDGES, a component of Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement, is to provide youth development activities to children designed with the resiliency skills to make healthy life choices. Another goal is to provide those activities in a safe, quality, after hours care for students in grades 4 – 8.

“The kids come to the library after a full day in school and a session of homework,” Liveoak said. “They are ready for entertainment and enrichment and poetry fits that need perfectly since it is powerful and versatile. Poetry can be beautiful and artistic or it can be whimsical and funny. Poetry can make them laugh or help them think deep thoughts. Poetry can stimulate them into action for a great cause or it can help them find inner peace during the turbulent times in their lives. We want to help them recognize the poetry that is ever present in their lives as they listen to music, watch television or read a magazine, the newspaper or a book.”

General Manager of the local Dollar General stores, Roger Perry said the public has the opportunity to contribute to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation via containers at the check-out stations at Dollar General stores.

“The change donated at the stores helps fund literacy projects aimed at underserved children all across the country,” he said.

Children’s Librarian, Mandi Cantrell, said they have planned four meetings designed to expand the children’s knowledge of poetry, so they can learn to be actively involved in writing poetry themselves.

“Each time we meet, they will hear poetry read aloud, learn a little about poets like Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings, Shel Silverstein and others,” she said. “Not only will we emphasize the works of poets that are considered classic, but we will also introduce some who are just getting their names established.”

The following presenters and programs for the children are as follows:

Tony Turner, a singer/songwriter will conduct the first session, “Poetry in Music.” Turner will demonstrate how he composes the lyrics (poetry) in his songs and then how he adds the music. He will have the students help him compose some simple verses and set it to music right before their eyes. He will use a “rap song” to show how the technique of many words rapidly repeated can be used to convey an idea.

The second program, “Poetry in the World of Advertising and Promotion,” will make help make the children aware of the use of poetry in the media. They will view ads that continuously employ the poetic method to capture the buyer’s attention and their dollars.

Dolores Hydock, actress and storyteller, will conduct the third session with “Poetry in Everyday Life.” She will do a dramatic presentation of “Casey at the Bat” and use poems from other works of interest such as “Sneakers.”

Lisa Dolensky will conclude the series with her session, “Poetry As I See It.” The writer/presenter will share her creative “off the page and the wall” writing prompts as well as what she calls her “vocabulary building sensory stations.” Her work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Miracles. Under her guidance, the participants will create their own verse to be distributed on bookmarks.

Contact Lindsey Holland at