Twyla Hansen and Matt Mason
Celebrating Poetry of Place
The fourth annual celebration of the Poetry of Place event was held on Friday, May 1, 2009, at the State Capitol Building in Lincoln. The event, in conjunction with Nebraska English Language Arts Council, recognizes excellence in writing by Nebraska students. The Poetry of Place Event is sponsored by the Nebraska Writing Project and the Nebraska Humanities Council. The goal of this project is to encourage teachers of students in grades 1-12 across Nebraska to include units of poetry of place in their classrooms and to submit outstanding examples of student work that reflects an engagement with their places. The Nebraska Writing Project has been a leader in Place Conscious education, work that links the curricula of classrooms to local resources and family and community stories and experiences. Nebraska is fortunate to have many poets whose work celebrates local place such as Ted Kooser, Bill Kloefkorn, Twyla Hansen, Matt Mason, Marjorie Saiser and many other poets whose poetry can be read by students as examples of poetry of place.
This year, the event was expanded to include more elementary students in rural, urban, and suburban settings. Submissions were sent to Dr. Mary K. Stillwell of the UN-L Department of English. Dr. Stillwell sorted through these submissions and sent the best poems to Nebraska poets Twyla Hansen and Matt Mason, who served as "selectors" of representative student poets. These students read their poetry at the Capitol event, and their poetry is published on the website of the Nebraska Writing Project.
Thanks to the teachers who participated in this event and to those students who were selected to be part of the ceremony. Thanks to Twyla Hansen, who has read the student poetry for four years and to Matt Mason, who completed his second year. To have these recognized poets present at the Capitol ceremony to read alongside the student poets was wonderful! Thanks also to Dr. Stillwell for her work as Project Coordinator and to Dr. Robert Brooke, Director of the Nebraska Writing Project. Thanks to all students who submitted poetry. We hope to continue this event as a tradition in Nebraska.
Story by Sharon Bishop
Photos courtesy of Kate Brooke and Kacey Horn