EVENT ‘Poetry under the stars' kindled the poet in many middle school children

I t was a fun filled Saturday evening when kids sat cross-legged on the lawn under the deep blue sky at Lakshmi School reciting and listening poems. Around 100 middle-school students volunteered to attend and enjoyed the workshop ‘Poetry under the stars'.

Ms.Nandini Murali, Editor of the magazine ‘Madurai Messenger' shared her poetic instincts: “Kids are more receptive and connected to the inner source of wisdom than adults. They can make great poets and one should give creditto them and appreciate their thinking” says Nandini, “I enjoy unconventional teaching. Poems are always looked upon as assignments where one has to quote with reference to context. This is also a reason why many kids lackinterest in poems.”

 Reading out Carl Sandburg's ‘The Hangman', Nandini explained how important the emotional quotient in poems is and that a poem need not necessarily rhyme. The workshop also acted as a platform for the children to air their views and notions.

“Poems are not supposed to be analyzed. They are to be enjoyed but our education system demands deciphering poems and hence one should also know to do that” she said, adding, “like any other art form, poems are also understood differently by different people. Poems should come from the heart and not from the head.”

 During the session, she also reiterated that modern day poems are much casual and do not follow any strict format. Many students also acknowledged that they wrote poems in ‘tanglish' (mix of Tamil and English). Nandini advised children not to try hard to make the poem rhyme and that spontaneity and usage of unusual imageries matter more. “Poem is a word painting. Reading a poem should bring in images in the mind, only then it is a good poem” she said.

 Eight students and eight teachers read out their favourite poems and a video recording of poems and interesting visuals of poems also added charm to the session. Expert English teacher Seetha Krishnamurthy also recited a poem. Some of the poems read out were: Owl and the pussy cat, At the theatre, Stopping by woods on a snowy evening, Where the mind is without fear, The way through the woods, Psalm of life and Abou Ben Adhem.

Later reading out one of her poems ‘It takes two to tango' on her two pet dogs, Nandini encouraged kids to read and write poems and develop affinity towards poetry.

She also gave two topics for the kids to pen down a poem – ‘I touched the rainbow' and ‘Butterflies in my garden', upon which the children will be short listed and awarded.

A. SHRIKUMAR

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