Guttenberg resident Laura Boss, an award-winning poet, believes in giving back to younger generations by sharing the gift of poetry. Boss holds a workshop each year at the Anna L Klein School in the hopes of “opening the door to poetry” for its students.
“I like to give back,” said Boss. “This is the only free workshop I do in a school because I want to give back to my town. I love this town.”
In the workshop
In the most recent workshop, Boss read one of her poems, and the students wrote their own, with her help. Their poems varied from free verse, narrative, to rhyme.
Students Jaydee Herreria and Kathlyn Velez read their poems aloud.
Jaydee’s poem, “Long Gone,” was about a relative’s passing.
“I understand you were gone and never coming back,” read Herreria. “Out of everyone in this world, he [God] needed the person I loved the most. Tall with brown hair, smile like no other, a laughter that filled the air. I will always remember the day I got the phone call.”
Kathlyn’s poem, “The Arrival,” was a capsulated moment of her brother being born.
“I remember when I got a phone call saying that my brother was born,” read Kathlyn. “I cried tears of joy, I felt like nothing can bring me down. [When I carried him in my arms] the whole world stopped and it was just me and him. I made him a promise I would never leave him, no matter what I would always be by his side.”
Remaining students chose not to read their poems aloud. Boss then read four student poems anonymously and held a question and answer period.
“I share my passion with the students and maybe some of it will be a good contagion.” – Laura Boss
She wants students to enjoy writing, reading, and poetry.
“I want them to continue writing and read more books,” said Boss. “I think there’s so much emphasis today on testing and results, that we lose some of the joy of creativity, imagination and the joy of writing and joy of reading for pleasure.”
In the workshop, she told them what it’s like to be a poet, how poetry differs from essays, and what it takes to write a poem.
Advice for others
Boss suggested that poems make great holiday gifts for loved ones. She also encouraged more poetry readings in school.
Eighth grade teacher Beth Peluso believes in the workshop.
“Having someone from Guttenberg show these kids they can go out and do whatever they want, they can be a poet and that we have talent here in Guttenberg [is a positive] message,” said Peluso. “I think any way we can get them to express themselves is definitely beneficial.”
Peluso said students like being able to do something different.
“I think that’s exciting for them,” said Peluso.
Continuation of the arts
Klein administrators believe in the arts, especially Boss’s workshop.
“The kids love it,” said Principal Pedro Garrido.
Boss commended Board of Education Trustee Sari Zuckerman, a neighbor of hers in the Galaxy condos, for the workshop’s beginnings, along with the administrators of Klein.
“[The] faculty is so encouraging and warm,” she said. “They stay and participate.”
Boss is the author of six books of poetry that include the award-winning On the Edge of the Hudson (1986), and Reports from the Front (1995) which was nominated for an American Book Award. She is a long-time Dodge Poet-in-the-Schools.
“To me it’s part of being an artist to share my work and encourage others to enjoy and participate in the arts,” said Boss. “I think it’s a responsibility artists have to hand down the legacy of poetry to each new generation.”
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org