The Nebraska Writing Project again sponsored the annual Poetry of Place event for students in Nebraska schools, grades 1-12. The event, open to students in rural, urban, and suburban settings, asks students to observe closely the places where they live and write about those places. The event began in 2004 when Nebraska poet Ted Kooser was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. Of that first event Ted Kooser wrote: "I was delighted when I first heard about this project, because it was committed to helping young people understand that poetry holds up a mirror to life, any and every life, and writing with one's setting as a background can produce poetry."
This year over 80 students submitted poetry about their places. First, readers Jeff Lacey and Sharon Bishop narrowed these submissions to 35 and then Nebraska poets Twyla Hansen and Matt Mason selected 12 representative poets to attend a ceremony at the State Capitol in Lincoln. On May 4, 2012, an audience of parents, family, and teachers listened to these young student poets read their poems. This year's event, co-sponsored with NELAC, was dedicated to the memory of the late Bill Kloefkorn, State Poet of Nebraska for over 25 years. Kloefkorn had been a supporter of the Poetry of Place event since its inception and often served as one of the selector/judges and attended the event and read from his poetry.
The event, held in the beautiful Warner Chambers, was sponsored in part by a grant from the Nebraska Humanities Council. (Read the Student Poetry)
(pictured, from left to right: Twyla Hansen, Matt Mason, Bridget
McKeon, Marrissa Nutter, Alli Gotch, Hannah Smith, Chrisi Vech.
Not pictured: Catherine Atkinson, Denise Dantzler, Nicole Ludden,
Sadie Lyon, Olivia Peshek, Ryan Segur, Cortney Trumble)
(Story by Sharon Bishop, photo by Ellen Schoenmaker)