|The leaders of the ILA/IRA chapter of Guam|
What did I find? An audience of eager students, kind and respectful, most of them already steeped in poetry! What a treat! They had created huge "welcome" signs and often posted their own poetry on the walls. They welcomed me with a lei (of shells, pods, seeds, flowers or even coral), provided refreshments, presented honorary certificates, and always gave me a lovely gift bag of treats from their schools or the island. As I said many times, I felt like a movie star!
And their response to my presentations were always enthusiastic and heartfelt. I focused on poetry of course and encouraged them all to visit the 811 sections of their libraries (making all their school librarians very happy) and then led an hour-long performance of selected poems from our Poetry Friday anthologies: The Poetry Friday Anthology for K-5, for Middle School, for Science, and for Celebrations. SO FUN! PFA poets, I can tell you that you are a big hit in Guam! Students loved your poems so much and these in particular were favorites:
"Underwear Scare" by Terry Webb Harshman-- I started by projecting a giant image of a pair of underwear and invited them all to join in the line, "You're in your underwear," using a giant sign with the words written on it! They loved "Selfie" by Lorie Ann Grover too and we took many selfie photos together, of course!
I HAD to share "St. Patrick's Day" by Esther Hershenhorn-- since it was THIS WEEK-- with everyone chiming in on the word GREEN and "World Water Day" by George Ella Lyon-- since that is NEXT WEEK-- with everyone chiming in on the word WATER when I lifted my water bottle. "Something I Did" and "The Do Kind" by Janet Wong were very powerful and helped students see how thoughtful and quiet a poem could be to get us thinking about how we treat people.
I got them up and moving with the wonderful, energetic poems:
"I Sit on My Bottom" by Michael Salinger and " Let's Go" by Merry Bradshaw and "Recess" by Avis Harley-- they LOVED pointing and jumping and leaning and moving!
We performed FOOD poems as they said SPAGHETTI when I shared "Ready for Spaghetti" by Carrie Finison and "Waffles Waffles Waffles" by Alan Wolf.
They enjoyed pet poems with "All Worn Out" by Kristy Dempsey and science poems with "Testing My Magnet" by Julie Larios (they loved yelling YES or NO) as well as the fun alliteration of "What is a Foot" by Jane Yolen.
The preschool kids also loved "Buttons" by Penny Parker Klostermann as we pointed to all the buttons on our clothes and "Baby Tooth" by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater as they showed me their gap-toothed smiles!
The teens were very engaged by "He Was So Little" by David L. Harrison (you could have heard a pin drop) and "The Fear Factor" by Sara Holbrook as they chanted the word "Okay" together as I read the rest of the poem-- as well as "Dracula" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand where they performed the "Shhhh...." in the poem while I read the rest.
They were blown away by "The Bully" by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (one student responded, "That's messed up!") and could totally relate to "Who Am I?" by Margarita Engle since we have an island full of Chamorro (native), Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and other islanders all mixed together here. "Future Hoopsters" by Avis Harley surprised them with its acrostic form and "How Romantic Can You Get" by George Ella Lyon made them all smile shyly while "Advice to Rapunzel" by Eileen Spinelli made them grin! And they loved the gross-out factor of "Eviscerate" by Michael Salinger.
And we filled the room with sound in echo-reading "STOP! Let's Read" by Kristy Dempsey and "How to Love Your Little Corner of the World" by Eileen Spinelli. Plus, we SANG "Sack Lunch" by Charles Waters to the tune of "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat!"
My big finish was leading them in "Photo Op" by Linda Sue Park with the whole audience yelling "FLEAS" as I took their photo with my camera! SO FUN! It was particularly perfect since we nearly always took an organized photo of me and the group at each school, so they were used to getting their pictures taken a lot. Now all the kids all over Guam say "FLEAS" when they get their pictures taken instead of "CHEESE!" Thanks, Linda Sue!
I'm probably forgetting a few other gems, but in one hour, I could only share a handful of poems. And I wanted to show them how much variety of form, feeling, and content they could find in poetry-- something for everyone-- and I hope inspire them to try to write poetry too. It was so lovely to see their responses, hear their questions, get their hugs, and feel this connection through the spoken and written word. What a pleasure and an honor. It was so fun to get to work directly with children and young adults in this way and be reminded of how things are still unfolding for them-- how open they can be-- and how much WE can learn from THEM!
And did I mention this is a beautiful place? I could post 50 gorgeous sunset photos! ;-)
Now head on over to Robyn's place, Life on the Deckle Edge, for more Poetry Friday goodness!