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The World is wide and full of poets

Poetry allows and invites so much variation. I think that's why I'm drawn to it. From strict forms to abstract visual art, poetry is the literary art that stretches borders and can make itself available to everyone.

(Juan Rojas, Ibaa Ismail, me and Mely Douglas at West Toledo Library for An Afternoon With Little Amal From Afar. Photo courtesy of Jamal Alghanem)

Just in the past two months, I've seen the joy of discovery and love of poetry at writing workshops. During Northwest Ohio Teen Book Festival, students showed up eager. In the Slam Poetry workshop, we talked with local artist/activist Jodie Summers about writing process, memorization, and performance. And later that day, in the Collage Poetry workshop, seats were filled and the glue sticks were busy. A couple of the kids said it was their favorite session of the whole day, and I cannot tell you how good it feels to hear that! To have teens at a book conference excited about the poetry workshops, and staying late to finish their poems - fanfreakingtastic!

(Ibaa Ismail, born in Syria, writing in Arabic and English)

(Juan Rojas, born in Mexico, writing in Spanish and English)

Or when the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in conjunction with Welcome TLC hosted An Afternoon With Little Amal From Afar, and, not only did the very incredible Juan Rojas and Ibaa Ismail read their work to us in Spanish and Arabic, but we also had a class with kids of all ages. In that class, we had three students here through American Cultural Exchange Services, each visiting Toledo for the school year, coming to us from South Africa, Taiwan, and Tanzania. We wrote about place, about liminal spaces and the sounds of being the "other." We wrote translitics and talked about translation.

(Me, being silly, at An Afternoon With Little Amal From Afar, with two incredible teens who knew 6 languages between them. Photo courtesy of Juan Rojas)

Poetry and language feeds the soul, speaks all languages, and it can bring everyone to the table.

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