Young poets in the making

Published 10:15 am Friday, April 23, 2010

Fifth-graders in Freeborn County are busy writing poems about trees for a contest sponsored by POET Biorefining. Students at Alden-Conger School and Hawthorne Elementary School are participating in the contest.

The local biorefinery in Glenville will be taking submissions, and one winner will be chosen. Winners will be announced June 1 and the winning poem will be submitted to a corporate contest.

“The children are having fun with the project,” Amy Nielsen said. “It’s very interesting to see what they come up with.”

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Nielsen said the kids worked on poetry earlier this year so they have a handle on how to do it. Many were looking at rhyming dictionaries. Some kids wrote traditional poems and others were counting syllables while writing haikus.

“It’s about nature, like a flower blooming and the sun shining,” Bryn Nelson said while describing her poem.

Along with help from Mrs. Nielsen the kids were getting advice from Kim Gooden. Sierra Dahlen was getting help from Gooden for her poem describing pollen.

“It makes me sneeze,” Dahlen said. “It comes from trees and flowers.”

Nielsen likes to see what the kids will come up with for their poems about trees because they’re all so different. She said the children’s ideas about what makes trees good were fun to hear.

“They’re not just pretty, and they’re good for us so we can breathe air,” Nielsen said, giving an example of what kids were trying to express in their poems.

Another elementary school submitting poems is Hawthorne in Albert Lea. Mary Jo Dorman’s fifth-grade class was working on poems Thursday.

“I’m trying to show kids the purpose of writing,” Dorman said. “It was an opportunity out there and I hate to bypass opportunities.”

Dorman’s class planted flowers and picked up litter Thursday, which gave her a chance to talk to her class about the importance of trees and water. Dorman wanted the kids to be able to focus on different topics because nature is such a broad topic.

“My poem’s about walking and feeling the nature outside,” Jasmine Losolla said.

Losolla was sitting next to Ashley Graham, and they were working on their poems while listening to calming music.

“I like to read poetry books,” Graham said.

The fifth-graders have been learning about poetry as well as figurative language. Dorman said she wanted the kids to be able to describe things by making pictures in their heads and writing about it so people can visualize things while reading the poems.

“Instead of trees blowing in the wind, they could be waving,” Dorman said.

That’s just one example of how the kids could use different words to describe what they’re thinking about. Ginger Friday is a paraeducator with the class and was helping kids find words and gather information.

“It’s fun to see each child have their individual idea of what a poem should be about,” Friday said.

Jenni Hanna, who works at the POET plant in Glenville, also likes reading the poems to see what the kids put together.

“It’s fun to read the different thoughts the kids put together, and what nature means to them is always unique,” Hanna said.

All 26 POET plants are participating in the contest. Each will have a first-place winner that will compete for one of three prizes at the corporate level. First-place winners also get a bag of environmental goodies. The winning poem at the corporate level be published in the summer issue of POET’s magazine.

“I’m just really excited about the teachers that did participate and want to thank them for getting their kids involved,” Hanna said.

POET plants also try to get groups from the schools to plant trees around Arbor Day each year. This is the first year of the poetry contest but it will probably be done every year.

“We’ll probably continue to do this on a yearly basis and encourage more participants,” Hanna said.