Students try hand at poetry at Grant Street Elementary
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Port Townsend poet Christine Hemp leads Grant Street Elementary students through a poetry exercise Tuesday. Students are, from left, Jazmyn Taylor, Raiden Kasperson, Shawn Cheesman, Gwen Cooley (cap visible), Keenan Chambers and Sophia Morris. – Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND -- School took a less structured turn Tuesday at Grant Street Elementary School as regular classes were suspended for the third annual Poetry Day.

"Poetry should be part of everybody's path," said Principal Steve Finch. "It allows kids to express themselves, and self-expression is a skill that we all need."

Instead of math, science and physical education, students were shuttled between poetry sessions, where they listened to the work of established poets and wrote their own poems.

Third-grader Donna Mead, 8, wrote poems about staplers and screws.

"I like poetry because it doesn't have to rhyme, and you can write poems about whatever you want," she said.

While teachers participated in the activities, several volunteers, such as Port Townsend poet Christine Hemp, led the groups of eight to 12 children.

"In the smaller groups, the kids get more attention," Finch said.

"Poetry suspends the rules of grammar and gives them permission to do different things with language."

All of the school's 328 students, who range from kindergartners to third-graders, participated in the activities.

Part of the allure for the students was the change in routine.

"I'm not saying that I didn't love doing the poetry," said third-grader Kiora Suratt, 9.

"But I didn't have to do math."


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: November 10. 2010 12:36AM
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