Grant takes classroom poetry to the streets

Emerson Wilson, a student at Pomona Elementary School, poses with her poem “Little Apple,” which was on display on Main Street last fall.

It was just a little apple that inspired Emerson Wilson to write a poem.

Or perhaps it was the real live writer who taught her class at Pomona Elementary about creativeness and prose for six weeks last fall as part of the Writers in the Schools program.

Either way, her poem “Little Apple” was selected to be on display just in front of Grand Valley Books at 350 Main St. Her proudly smiling face is proof that programs such as these are providing inspiration and encouragement to children who want to express themselves through writing.

Writers in the Schools is a national program that was implemented by members of the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum on the Western Slope.

Members Sandra Dorr and Jill Burkey taught a six-week residency to third grade classes at Pomona Elementary School last fall. The kids studied writing, wrote poems, and published an anthology with their collected works.

The program was made possible through funding from Colorado Humanities, an organization which supports literacy, cultural and historical programs for Coloradans.

“It’s been a long time since funding like this has been available in Colorado,” said Dorr, executive director. She said this is the first Colorado Humanities Writer in Residence program on the Western Slope and the only one taking place in the state beyond the Front Range.

Dorr emphasized the importance of connecting writers with students through programs such as these. “We need people there to mentor and teach creative writers,” she said.

It costs $2,000 to conduct a six-week residency within the school, which includes printing of the anthology and material costs, Dorr said.

Cost of publishing and displaying the poems on Main Street was sponsored by the Grand Junction Commission on Arts & Culture and Art on the Corner.

The program was such a success in the fall that Colorado Humanities is currently supporting a ten-week residency at Scenic Elementary. It is being taught by Burkey.

“We are really happy to be doing this and it’s something we are really passionate about,” Dorr said. She hopes to continue to receive support for the program so that it becomes a common part of elementary education in the future.




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