Perry family takes its poetry sessions public

Sun News correspondentJuly 24, 2013 

PERRY -- What started as an attempt by Lisa McIntosh to keep her kids motivated to read and write during summer holidays has spread a love for poetry among many of the family’s friends, neighbors and acquaintances.

Saturday, a group of young people and adults met at The Coffee Cup in downtown Perry to listen to poetry dealing with topics from pets to the connections between people.

Some of it was written by famous poets and some by the young participants.

“This started three years ago as a way to keep my kids reading and writing through the summer,” McIntosh said. “They wrote poetry and then I told them to recite it as well. We started talking about how they were presenting it, how they were standing, and it turned into a public speaking thing, too.”

McIntosh said she started the exercise in her home, where it grew to a once-a-quarter event as neighbors and friends joined in. Now she said there are about seven families involved.

Saturday’s reading was the first time she and her husband, Keith, have taken Poetry in Action, as it’s come to be called, into a community setting.

“The Coffee Cup is such a cute place and they have a nice microphone set up, it just seemed like a good idea to do it there,” she said. “Beside the fact we were outgrowing our house, it also added a new dimension to reciting the poetry in front of people and a new level of nerves to get over.”

The McIntosh’s daughter, Keila, a fourth-grader at Quail Run Elementary School, read her own poem, “If You Want a Pet,” twice during the program -- once as the first poem of the day and then again after more participants arrived.

Their son, Emmanuel, in the 11th grade at Northside High School, read his composition, “Insouciance,” dealing with faith, hope and love.

Another 11th-grader, Josh Profit from Houston County High School, read his work also, and a third 11th-grader, Loren Merritt of Perry High School, read “Myself” by Edward A. Guest.

Though the spotlight was on young people, they weren’t the only ones taking the stage to recite poetry. During an open mic opportunity at the end of the event, a number of adults got up and applauded the efforts and performances of the youngsters as well as shared their own poems.

One to do so was Elouise Bennett, who recited a poem she said she learned “a long time ago” when she was in the fourth grade.

“I don’t remember who wrote it, but I remember I had to learn it,” she said before beginning the lengthy work. She remembered to curtsy before beginning, which she also said she was taught to do.

The poem fit McIntosh’s purpose for the event as it ended with the line “whatever I do I’ll do it well.”

The day also included information for participants about writing a personal mission statement and information about effectively reaching goals in school.

Keith McIntosh ended the program by encouraging participants to continue trying to excel in their learning and their creativity.

He also said he was inspired and challenged by the young people to try to write a poem to read himself by the next Poetry in Action event.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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