2014 2016 Duluth Poet Laureate Jim Johnson presents a Poetry Reading by Local High School Students



you you you you Oh Oh you you you you you you you you you Oh you you you you you you you you you you you you you you Oh you how about another round of applause for the duluth east string quartet that's Nancy Swanson marreth Stevenson Mack Johnson and Justin Taylor my name is Jim Perlman and I'm the chairperson of the Duluth poet laureate project and on behalf of our committee I welcome you to this afternoon of poetry readings by area high school students special thanks are due to John Sorensen for arranging for the use of the Sacred Heart Music Center and Penny Perry who designed the programs and the posters promoting this event thanks also to our community co-sponsors the Friends of the Duluth Public Library Lake Superior writers Arrowhead reading Council sites arts cafe Lake Superior college and the English departments at UMD st. Scholastica and lastly minnesota public radio who donated 300 dollars worth of air spots to promote today's reading how about a round of applause for them I would also invite your consideration to make a donation to help support our programming there's a donation basket in the entryway and we very much appreciate your support all the money that's donated goes directly to our programming costs we have a freshman refreshments available cookies things to drink and please help yourself please sign our email contact list and we will send out a message informing you of our future events and now let me introduce Jim Johnson the 2014 2016 Duluth poet laureate who organized today's events and will be the master of ceremonies Jim thank you Jim I want to I want to thank Jim Perlman all of the members of the poet laureate committee with thanks Sacred Heart for allowing us to use this beautiful facility the Duluth e string quartet again for giving us beautiful music in the beautiful setting I want to thank again NPR for promoting and I want to thank Liz Manette who is filming us for public access TV and I want to thank all of you who came out to support poetry today the reason I think that I tried to organize this reading is because poetry is sometimes supported for elementary students but it seems to me that a lot of times in secondary in high school that it's not it kind of loses focus because so much effort is put into teaching writing writing essays particularly and and that's good when I when I went to high school there wasn't as much emphasis on writing as there is today and that's good but in the high schools a lot of times the emphasis is on the essay 5 paragraph graduation requirement and instruction for as college preparation and so on and so forth and sometimes the creative writing the writing of poems and stories gets neglected and I think that there are always a few students who have the need to write journals write poems write stories and so I think that today we're trying to give an opportunity for those students who do that to have a chance to present their work and get a little recognition and applause I also think that there are a few teachers who have been supporting these students teachers who are teaching creative writing or offering a special after-school program for creative writing and they kind of recognize the need that these students have to write and are inspiring and encouraging it and so we want to recognize those teachers too because a lot of our lot of our schools have had pretty big enrollments large class sizes and it's easy for teachers who have a number of classes and larger classes to kind of overlook extra writing and to take on more of a workload so we want to we want to recognize those people and to give them credit for what they're doing so to quote Kevin Garnett yourself here's how we roll I will I will we'll start with we're going to start with cloquet high school Renee Montgomery is the teacher and our first reader will be Isaac Glenn this is no reservations my knives are sharp too sharp unused and worn and unwanted clean stove and empty oven no tickets in the window the open sign flickers not one customer to avoid the rain fares light and warm and it's creative but not one review no dirty dishes no on bus tables no reservations in the book I'm host server and chef but I do nothing at all thank you rain weeps down fanned pine boughs frogs hum cacophony while field mice borough dry leaves chatter under bullets of water dole clouds bulged this guy clothes and tottered down and fat drops frigid and austere here's the deers the drizzled spring blooming and cheats clear Thunder shouts as bony birch descends earth shivers to life when winter ends lightning burst blinding veins of white people back people pack houses like sardines doors slam tight televisions drown the wind shrieks and cackles screens trapping bodies that invisible shackle and this is a the poem wrote me gazes perch soft on the paper and cling two lines under my fingers I'm writing nothing I can't talk now I'm too busy being built all coffee'd old bread than thought spilt lord knows the poem wrote me see these hands carved from branches gnarled and old watch my pen drop at the first bite of cold they drag words in their crackling wake listen as they popped from join snake oh no the poem wrote me it dressed my flesh and power full moon white and pushed my eyes into craters dark as night seldom does a voice RUP RUP sure that crimson smudge where silence drips out like sludge no oh no the poem wrote me but aching branches lead to sturdy root and the wrinkled page has no stutter to dilute ideas wrapped in blazing light the poem will never cease to write circle of life beginning as a baby in the womb continuing as a baby in the world a new life starting the journey in a cruel harsh world crying but happy and cheerful growing into adolescence starting to see the problems of life wondering how to make it through seeking out their meaning and the purpose intent on seeing this life through working and working as an adult wondering what their life has become marriage and children added too many problems would happen to those happy years then that adult lies on the bed wondering where is the end it's near they see they think about the lives they lived and how well they had it and then that life is gone and then they start again as a baby in the room a peaceful night's end their path a lit with flickering lights creating quite an amazing sight as they walked hand in hand by Firefly lights rose bushes twinkled as he picked her a rose and trapped inside a soft pink petal a little creature said it a glow she gasped at the fireflies light a cherry tree swayed with the passing breeze blossoms fell from above covering their path appearing again by a fire flies like the clock struck 12 they started off with a frown for this night had come to an end a peaceful night led by fireflies light but all good times must end he leaned down and kissed her one last time goodnight and they walked to their separate ways each led home by fireflies light this is a story based off of the novel lord of the flies by william golding it's called after the fire the storm has passed night is clear the air fresh and cooler than before the forest is soaked and shining leaves reflect celestial light through glossy coats of rainwater pink rock is slippery and dampened to a Rottier blush a miraculous spray of stars and planets trembles against a liquid sky the beach has been abandoned remains of a large bonfire from a bruise on the far end near a rise in the pink Rock miniature dunes kicked up by frantic feet dimple the sand hastily carved pathways are poked into the exterior of the damp forest weaving through the thick foliage like long fingers broken and littered across the beach are sharpened sticks soiled at the ends with a black looking die the sea Scott the sea sighs and gasps to a sleepy rhythm as if it were tired of its pattern and wishes to lie still on the shoreline silent in awe of the sky all is calm rid of the blue lightning cracks of thunder the dancing savages and their demonic fire have dissipated but the beach Express is no solace in this quiet glazed aftermath instead numbness the stars shiver a boy lay crumpled and broken dirtied with black looking die on a section of shoreline his is the only heartbeat not hidden deep in the forest and soon the fading pulsations who recognized their location and fallen sync with the ebb and flow of the water his breath follows and he is falling asleep lying still and silent drifting out and up a rustling in the leaves the snapping of twigs and a brush of grass wet leaves shake and shower rain drops onto a filthy mess of fair hair a shadowy figure stumbles onto the beach gangly and angular with hunger his drunken footsteps beat the moonlets and he clutches his wounds and sphere whimpering to himself his head is a throbbing pain a horrific circulation of fire painted bodies and wild eyes punctuated by screams the shock of passion has faded but an electric buzz Dell quickens his pulse the world appears flushed and fever through his vision through half-closed eyes he examines the slaughtered beast there is a spine sculpting a line of knobs into the curved back and a weaving of bony arms and legs gathered close to the quiet heart there's a head angled to the pointed chin lingers only an inch above the small chest and a nest of course black hair knotted with dried blood they're our limp little feet and droopy eyelids its skin is torn bitten punctured ruined a child's cry for mercy is ghost-like on parted lips a picture rises before him he sees a boy's face gaping in a scream gray eyes wide and lit with fear the boy is a small raven-haired creature in circles with pointed sticks there's a pulsation of adrenaline screams like the manic buzzing of flies then in his muddled memory he sees the spears meat flesh the savage drops his spear his head is a throbbing pain a blinding flash of fire in the night constant and angry behind his eyes fire fire everywhere dry sand beneath his feet gunshot Thunder shattering heartbeat deafening red pulsations hot is flame kill the beast cut his throat spill his blood he was blind it was dark he didn't know a boy's face scaping in a scream gray eyes small Raven haired pointed sticks pulsing a scream like the manic buzzing of flies kill the Beast cut his throat spill his blood footsteps wild and desperate shatter the sand a rustling in the leaves droplets fall on mud and muddy skin the screaming savage blinded by his visions hurdles himself back into the abyss the beach has been abandoned cool breezes and glazed numbness ruddy pink Rock shining leaves an ocean falling asleep on the shore under spray of stars the dozing waves reach for the broken creature and cradle him in their wake finding comfort they pull him deeper and closer until he rests beneath the surface soft and blue and quiet take a breath take a breath disappear maybe then you'll see why you're here see people pass without a care they're trying to hide within their despair just stop and think about what you do if people stopped and cared for you now think of a world a peace and joy where people help each other and emotions aren't just a toy and then you can see what you can do and maybe you can see that change starts with you someday i am going to be a mother and over time I will lose my selfishness I will understand how it feels to sacrifice everything for somebody that you love I will know what it's like to look at someone and see pure innocence and beauty and I will finally be proud of something that i created my muscles will be bigger and my smile will be brighter my car will be messier but my heart will be lighter until then I will find joy in the little things like good morning texts and poetry fresh-baked bread and spontaneous hugs music and blankets hot chocolate and butterflies I will look in the mirror and tell myself that I am beautiful no matter how much I don't believe it I will say thank you I'm sorry and I love you every chance I get I will take too many pictures in hopes that i will remember every detail of every moment and I will hang on to my naivety because I believe that the world is good thank you GameChanger let's play a game you know the one little people little cars picking the path on a whim of a wheel we're playing the game of life it started off as so much fun we were so excited to be included we didn't bother to read the rules diving in headfirst completely unaware of what was in store we just wanted to play the game we were too young to realize a crucial part of games so we can't all be winners some of us are going to lose and I'm not doing so well see I was hoping to spend an 8th lead a life of happiness and success stress-free that was the goal but I spun a 2 and I landed on mental illnesses depression anxiety and insomnia lose part of your mind be so tired you can't focus be too afraid to move forward and I'm not the only one no I swear this game is rigged because there are far too many of us being dealt crappy hands but the game keeps on going people keep on spinning they keep on playing unaware of how many of us have fallen behind or maybe they just don't care we might be playing the game but we aren't really part of the game the rules were made to accommodate for broken pieces there is no next step for us they didn't write one they forgot us and no it hasn't escaped my mind that there are people looking at us wondering why we can't just play like everybody else telling us we're not trying hard enough but when I'm 16 and over half of my friends have some kind of mental illness and somewhere there's a boy playing solitaire Russian Roulette hoping this will finally be the shot that ends it and somewhere there is a girl playing tic-tac-toe on her skin with a knife there are kids playing hide-and-go-seek with their mirrors their hiding places being under the covers of beds they can't seem to get out of we traded jump ropes and tire swings to jump from bridges and to swing from nooses there are kids writing poems hoping to feel less like game pieces that no one wanted and more like people all because of this game no one bothered to put a warning label on how many more kids do we have to lose before society realizes it's not playing fair stop telling us we need to try harder we are you have no idea how hard it is for some of us to get out the door stop telling us happiness is a choice it's not if I could have picked happiness don't you think I would have stopped telling us you know our minds better than we do that you know best if people knew it was best for kids like me the rules would have changed by now we are part of the game like everybody else don't brush us aside like we don't matter we do I know what the rules say but I refuse to relearn how to hate myself over and over and over again I've already done that it was what I was taught to do and it was a direction that was far too easy to follow but I am done playing these rules I am starting on a new path and this one will be harder so I'm calling it acceptance I am not ashamed of my mental illnesses they are a part of me that I might not like but they are a part of me and the only way we can fix a broken game is to first love our own broken bits until we no longer see them as broken well the only thing I might have learned from playing societies game is how cruel some people can be that has only placed determination in my veins steel in my spine and given me an undying love for those who loved me first for those who taught me I could love myself I will not be another forgotten name headed down the path called suicide or loneliness or was too scared to live so they didn't yes i have insomnia yes I have anxiety yes I have depression and yes I am going to make it to the end of this game and when I do I'm going to turn around and wait because you are making it to the end of this game too platypi and math yes platypi and math that's the title of this poem but that's not how it started I wanted to write a poem that could change the world I wanted to make a difference tell people how awful our society is but then I realized how boring is that I could rhyme and act like I know what I'm talking about but I mean look at me do I honestly look like the type of person who knows exactly what they're talking about well can I tell you a secret I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing I mean I can't even understand the difference between a concave up and concave down Cuba crack in precalculus and sorry to all the math teachers out there but when will I ever use that y equals negative B plus or minus square root of 4 squared alt see I don't even remember it I just tried to sing a song to a mathematical formula to pop goes the weasel and I wanted to write a poem about what is right and what is wrong do you kind of catch my drift so then I thought what should I write about I could write something crazy like purple platypuses or is it platypi well I like platypi or I could start with roses are red violets are blue did you know that violets are only blue when they aren't in full bloom so basically you'd be writing a poem about a premature flower so romantic right i mean i could write about that but i'm not going to i think i know what i should write about but since this is a pre-written poem i already knew but that's not the point the point is i said all those random things to prove a few points first point I don't know what I'm doing second point who actually does third point precalculus is really hard and fourth point it's actually platypi or platypuses you can use either i looked it up we'll just focus focus on those first two points so as much as I like platypi I may not know a lot about life and I may not have it all together but what I do know is that I'm not the only one I know that death happens often and some people in my life have come very close and I know that my name is Dakota and I love to write poetry and I know that I was given this amazing opportunity to write and read my poetry and I know that I want to stand out and I want you to remember me so I spent hours writing poetry trying to figure out the best way to go about this I wrote poems about beauty poems about love poems about poetry I wrote poems about death about war poems about reminiscing but if you think how many poems have you heard with the same words that spoke the same things with the same exact words and if you think about it this way I know there are 26 letters in the English alphabet and these letters are combined in many different ways I could literally say anything with 26 measly markings and so can anyone else in this world but I chose to put them into poetry so in order to make you remember me I wrote a poem about not knowing things I wrote a poem about platypi because who doesn't like that there's actually probably a few people that don't like that but that's not the point the point is I know a lot of things and you know a lot of things but we both know different things and that is amazing and I went through extreme lengths to make sure you remember me but while I did that I also said something very important I'm learning as I go through life and every day I learn new things and with so many things in this world to learn no one knows what they're doing and though I don't know what I'm doing sometimes I like to pretend I do and we as people go through great strides to achieve this so I will tell you what I could do I could learn random facts like how nor in Norway night at a penguin once or when you yawn and stretch at the same time it's called panty culation I could act prim and proper and stick my nose up in the air and act like I'm better than everyone else or I could carry around piles of books and recite the deck relation of Independence but I'm not going to do those things because I've gotten to the point in this poem we're saying anymore won't continue to prove that point won't make you remember me but I guess now i understand it doesn't even matter if you remember me I just hope you learned something so yes platypi and math that's the title of this poem but that's not how it's ending penguins and panda culation that's how it's ending hello for my senior project I published a book of poetry that I compiled and so I'm going to read five poems from that book the book is called progression and this poem is called in the fields it's about a baby deer that I found in a field in the fields there is not time but a series of breezes Dusk's and Donn's an abundance of green all freshly impressed with a lively regelence the breeze not ominous of an approaching darkness or danger revitalizes the land while shaking sadness from the trees and granting grass permission to dance with kindred spirit it assists the bird's flight and brings pollen to young bees it's a sweet and tender breeze the Sun rises and falls here avowing both songbirds and owls white rabbits and possums the capacity to live and relive the Sun not sweltering embellishes the scenes with trembling warm hues and by night destitute blues this collection of grass holds the sweetest of blades leaving not a scratch on any of the delegates that frolic and pant about day in and day out oh how quaint and docile my next poem is called inevitable and it's about the animals that have to get ready for winter the creatures scramble about knowing of the perilous objections to follow the autumns opening mustering all opportunities to survive the presumed hardships is their loan burden now the leaves have been whispering lately most often when the winds grow bitter these disconnected dried veins recognize what is to come soon they will venture to the forest floor believing that this will keep them from a wintery seizing not a soul conscious being will exist by tomorrow I'll leaves cursed into relics will a rumpled condemned by the ravenous winds and the sun's betrayal of abandonment the trees will bear their truths revealing their tired wrinkled skin which is faded and great over time no longer equipped with the misleading green leaves but rather the lines of hardships experienced my next poem is called influenced and it's about domestic abuse the air has become violent whipping and thrashing all around forcing branches to waver as the bravest birds now tremble chests expand filling with an unwanted rage deflating their breaths escape them though the pain remains my fourth poem is called evolved and it's about the beauty of women she is an ocean so much more than mere water her body and abundance of beauty lies covered in wondrous skin which conceals all depths of her demeanor and I am left completely unaware of what malice may lie beneath my dread she holds no concreteness not in her eyes or her breaths and not in how she belongs she yields no habitation she yields no boundaries as habitation men's who are luring mean she the epitome of fluidity holds my heart in her ocean and I don't want it back and my last poem is called misconception and it's about how hardships can affect us but it doesn't make us worth less you can look at an apple and see its bright skin variations of red though nothing within all of its dense and all of its faults may plague what is true yes it's browning imperfect but that's true for you too you see time wears us down and turns porcelain to dust but shovels are still shovels when covered in rust the loss of individuality effects all teens we are afraid of who we are because society only accepts the clones so we as individuals fear not being accepted on the other hand some of us do try to be ourselves but we end up outcasts others follow society and never live up to their true selves either way we're forced to live in our own skin well there are someone else or ourselves imperfection we were scars in the eyes of society scars they do not fade and cannot be erased our imperfection without blanket and clothes at us with a warmth which never reached our souls we were discarded like crumpled pieces of paper yet we did not cry how could we we were stung by words knifed by glances broken by rumors but we could not bleed we had no more tears to shed no more blood to give with you dams oceans and seas without tears yet what all we've done they could not see the beauty laced into our souls their misguided visions sauce still as the filth and rot of humanity shattered waters and we danced in the sky suspended by our imaginations with graced our waitress sadness emptied our minds of salvation our curiosity painted our pain and we burned like falling cities watching it all turned to dust while the world moved around us we stayed stagnant terrified of change and our souls indeed they bled our memories became lies ticking clocks I was in climax hidden shapes objects whatever we could find petrified by the voices of fear itself we ran stumbling over graves which printed our names in bold letters for shattering our fates with sinister grins were we actually alive we would have cared we would have begged but our minds were numbed our souls that succumbed so we crawled in no hurry to escape our fates but as we reach the waters our clothing soaked in blood we sipped of P&S peace in the land of Sorrows we close our eyes and while they never opened they shone brighter than the Stars ever could fighting fate the path we chose took from us joy free will and hope we were dying internally feeding on our own wounds we had become addicts to the pain which we were convinced kept us alive while the world moved around us we stayed stagnant terrified of change we believed the lies they spoke and in return we became those lies we destroyed ourselves became empty broken shells a mirror of that which were rebuked which ride with failure to change ourselves but as our skins became thinner and our voices smaller our souls became ghosts leaving us cold with nothing to lose and while you walk the streets passing us by and seeing us as diseases with chuckle our last sunshine because deep down under the plump skin and the shiny silk you were us thank you and the dangers that need to be slayed will be the very heart and eyes that brought me here today but I I am only human just a little girl you were my father my prince charming my introduction to this world all you are to me is a man pretentious arrogant absent completely ignorant capricious drunken never forgotten you you are my father my eyes reflect your own as does my misinterpreted passion coming across as stubborn vain as I transformed so did you from the Prince Charming of a childhood haze there to protect and respect what I was becoming you were creating ones full of milk and hope you now carry a bottle of guilt dragging it behind is I dragon mind the sort of my prince who sent me to bed and left me in time I dreamed I dreamed in time dreamed I was a daughter held in arms that I trust to trust me Lawson sleep I find a father not only I make of it but a father who chose to covet me in my dream you are forgiven as when I lay awake but more than blood needs to be given when it is the truth we have at stake to find such truth I take a step back hit with what has become a princess abandoned by her prince charming left to fend for herself to save her own life under the dying Sun thank you there is a monster in my house mommy didn't believe me when I told her she said monsters didn't exist I'm eight now she said and should know not to be scared daddy just said something I didn't understand he was drinking a special drink but I know someone is there one day mommy and I walked into our small house from the side door the front door was wide open mommy checked all the closets and opened all the doors but she didn't find anything but I knew then daddy moved a few houses down mommy and daddy got something called a divorce so I don't get to see daddy as much but mommy seems happier without him and the ice clinking in his dirty glass but mommy leaves a lot now she gets me from school and goes to get what she calls tonic water with her tall friend Marci Marci is nice but she doesn't believe in the monster either but I know someone is there mommy isn't home tonight she left after dinner with Marci I played with my rag dolls but then I got bored I lookbook sometimes so I read junie b jones until that was boring too then I heard a noise it was a quiet noise like the crunch of snow under my feet I got up to see who could have made it it was dark the red glow of the numbers on the clock shined 932 I wondered when mommy would get home something hummed but it wasn't the gray fridge or the beat up heater the wooden walls creaked I began to feel afraid I wanted to be brave like mommy I began to open all the closets and doors one by one I checked my room first but i only found my patched clothes and a few old dolls I went to mommy's room and they saw her brightly colored bottles of paint for her face and nails I checked the hallway the bathroom the tiny room with the TV no monsters I went to the very last door in the kitchen it was a wooden cabinet and I had to reach on my tiptoes to the metal handle but I lost my balance and fell onto the tiled floor I knocked over what was in the cabinet green bottles and clear bottles and brown bottles and some fell onto me they shattered into a million pieces the glass sparkling like dying stars as I lay on the floor I heard another humming sound except this one was louder then I saw the monster out the window until I realized that it was my mommy's black car thank you hello i'll be reading two poems today the first one is called depression and it's about depression there is a beast under my bed it likes to whisper words in my head the words that it says fill me with dread you'll never be good enough it said there is a beast under my bed there is a monster in my mirror it likes to leap and lurk and leer its claws bring to me pain and fear I want to see your tears it's nears there is a monster in my mirror there is a creature in my closet it likes to lie and be dishonest it wants to see who will last the longest you'll never find solace it promised there is a creature in my closet there is a demon at my door it likes to creep along my floor it horrifies me with its roar you're done for it will implore there is a demon at my door and the next one I'll be reading is called with you my beloved I'm caught in a chronic chronic connection with you falling forever and furnished perfection drowning and desolate leeriest devotion to you soaring through saccharine sweet sublime skies cool captivating chaos collides whispering whimsical warm words of wonder to you enraptured and exquisite ineffable electricity ablaze with amorous aesthetic and a latissimus lyrical love with you thank you to be honest when I put this together I never know how these are going to turn out but i think we had some amazing performances today and I want to thank all of our readers thanks for coming you

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