By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – If you love storytelling, literature and spoken word, and want to fuel your children’s exposure to poetry, then make sure to bring them to “Kids Lit! in the Gardens” on Saturday, April 27 from 12 -2 p.m. in the Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum’s Legacy Gardens.
Free and open to the public, “Kids Lit!” is a featured event of Keep St. Pete Lit’s fifth annual Sunlit Festival and is being sponsored by Cultured Books and The W.O.R.D. Initiative.
The afternoon will feature poetry stations, Storytime, a community open mic and performances by Tampa’s Heard ‘Em Say Teen Poetry organization.
Leigh K. Davis, co-Founder of The W.O.R.D. Initiative (Women Organizing Real Discussions) shared, “Literacy encourages a greater understanding of ourselves and others. We create events that celebrate communication in the community. Our first event, Kids Lit! is an afternoon for families to experience poetry, have fun creating poetry and connect.”
Nationally, reading poetry is on the upswing. The Washington Post shared that a study from the National Endowment for the Arts recorded that adults reading poetry grew an astounding 76 percent between 2012 and 2017, with 28 million adults reporting that they read poetry in 2017.
The results were even more astounding for younger people – during that time the number of 18 to 24-year-olds reading poetry doubled. Britain’s news source the Guardian also recorded that poetry sales were up last year, and attributed it to younger readers searching for “clarity” amid “conflict and disaster.”
The theme of the day at Kids Lit! is “social justice,” but the family- friendly activities are for all ages.
Cultured Books’ owner Lorielle Hollaway noted, “When people think of poetry they might think, ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘that’s something that I think really hard [about].’”
But, said Hollaway, the stations help people see different ways to create poetry that are fun and imaginative. She also said the central theme of” social justice poetry” will encourage people to think about their own values and the things they’d like to see in the world.
Some of the featured poetry stations include:
- “Blackout Poetry:” There will be used books on hand for people to tear pages out of, and then “blackout” different words to reveal a poem that they wrote.
- “Found Poetry:” Finding words in magazines or newspapers that will be available for participants to cut out and paste on paper to make a poem.
- “Magnetic Poetry:” Using magnetic letters to arrange words and poems on steel slabs for parents and children to have fun creating together.
Voice actor Eric H. Hollaway Sr. will provide the Storytime poetry and poet Sara Reis will share social justice oriented poetry.
Tampa’s Heard ‘Em Say Teen Poetry’s organization’s mission is to “provide our community’s youth with a healthy social outlet and platform to express themselves and promote growth in the areas of self-esteem, written, and oral communication, networking, social tolerance, and cultural understanding through the art of spoken word poetry.”
Lorielle Hollaway added, “I feel events like this are important because poetry is an outlet for children to share things that they go through. They’re growing, dealing with society, dealing with adults, and poetry is a nice way to let emotions out and tell your story – and it can make something really beautiful.”
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