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Poet helps Lower Valley middle school students explore the craft of writing

Poet, author and artist Quraysh Ali Lansana, reads poetry to a class during his workshops at Tolt Middle School and the Riverview Learning Center recently - Courtesy photo
Poet, author and artist Quraysh Ali Lansana, reads poetry to a class during his workshops at Tolt Middle School and the Riverview Learning Center recently
— image credit: Courtesy photo

“If you have a command of language and an understanding of the written word, there is absolutely nothing you cannot do.”

These words hit home for middle school students on Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, when acclaimed author, poet, artist, and instructor Quraysh Ali Lansana led a workshop with Matt Stewart’s first period eighth-grade language arts class. The workshop was one of several courses that Lansana led in sessions at both Tolt Middle School and the Riverview Learning Center the week of Feb. 4 to 8.

During the workshop, Lansana talked about his background and cited famed poet Gwendolyn Brooks as an inspiration. Working with "We Real Cool," one of Brooks' most noted poems, Lansana invited students to explore the characters and meaning of the work. Seven students were asked to embody a specific line of the poem, while the rest of the class served as directors, telling the actors how to stand and portray their characters.

Lansana also read from his own poetry and discussed irony, alliteration, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, and simile. Students were then asked to craft a “Community Awareness Poem” which focused on their respective neighborhoods, identifying smells, sounds, likes and dislikes, and other sensory items from their homes.

The author of 16 books, Lansana showed students that interpreting poetry, along with any form of art, is always left to the individual. "There are no wrong answers…all comprehension is valid,” he said.

 

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