I’m Jess Stoner, and I have the best job in the world.
I work at Badgerdog Literary Publishing in Austin. Besides helping facilitate senior citizen writing workshops around town, besides getting to work alongside the fabulous ladies at American Short Fiction, I get to help run our Writers in the Schools program.
If you haven’t been around a classroom of 4th graders lately, you’re missing something big (and it’s not just scabies, which I did get recently). Every moment I’m with our young writers in their creative writing workshops, I remember what it means to be alive, what it means to play, to discover, to invent worlds with language. One 4th grader recently told me “I write to get the hurt out”; another expressed her joy at seeing her poems published in our annual anthologies of student writing, Rise & Emerge, with a statement in all caps: “I AM A REAL AUTHOR.” Everything about what they write is nurtured by their willingness to engage in play, in discovery, in wonder, in the very real place of our imaginations.
The poems you’re about to read were written by elementary, middle and high school students, in Title 1 schools throughout Austin. The poems you’re about to read are going to blow your mind. The poems you’re about to read might serve as a reminder that where the good is, is where we’re willing to look for it: in our imaginations, in the things we promise never to forget, in tacos, in our secret hopes, in things inside and outside of ourselves, in the moments that not-yet-grown-men pay attention to, and that every grown-up might take a moment to reflect on.
Read poetry by kids in this series.
—Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/Flickr