Poetry Helping Students Cope with Life

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some young writers from urban schools in the metro are turning their pain, their joy and their life struggles into art. The "In Our Own Words" writing program has been going on in five area urban schools, and 150 students took part.

On Friday, 65 of the students were selected to share their writing with other writers in two workshops at the Writers Place. The students also got the chance to share their art with a poetry reading. The students poems tell all kinds of personal stories about fear, self awakening, love, and inequality.

"Just powerful stuff," says Judy Roberts, program coordinator, "I'm so excited with what they wrote."

Roberts says these kids share unique challenges and perspectives coming from urban schools, and they're sharing those experiences and emotions through art.

"Also it no longer has the power to hurt you once you get it out and look at it," Roberts says, "and then it becomes art"

Paseo Academy senior Henry Cordova says poetry helps him cope with some of his own pain.

"I've lost a lot of friends to violence and drugs," Cordova says, "life is tough here but since we write about it we can connect and relate to each other. And to me that's an amazing experience."

Aria Pannell is a Lee A Tolbert 8th Grader attending the workshop. She says she normally bottles up her emotions, but she says writing is her release.

"To be around other writers is really exciting because now I know other people express their feelings the way I do," Pannell says, "and nobody will laugh at you or make jokes, they just listen to you and you get respect from it."

"It gives them a voice ," Roberts says, "they have a voice locked up inside of them but this gives them a voice, people listen to them and respect them."

This was the first time the Writers Place has hosted students for a workshop. The kids left with an anthology of their work but the Writers Place also hopes they left with a new sense of pride in their work, and an appreciation for that voice inside of them.

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