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King Street "Superhero 6" Poetry Group Connects Virtually

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Students create adventure journals
  • Students create adventure journals

Last summer, poet and educator JC Wayne began working with a small group of elementary school kids at King Street Center in Burlington. Wayne, the creator of the Poartry Project, and the group of students went for nature walks along Lake Champlain — with journals and art supplies in tow — engaging their observational and listening skills, and creating art and poetry together.

A group art poem
  • A group art poem

When the 2019-20 school year began, she started meeting weekly with a new group of students who attended King Street's afterschool program.

"What JC is able to do is beautifully connect kids with nature," said King Street community outreach director Gabriela Tufo-Strouse. Wayne uses drawing and storytelling to help kids express themselves, Tufo-Strouse continued, and makes poetry "easy" by demonstrating how words can be arranged to create a poem.

Wayne called her afterschool group the Superhero 6 and wrote a story inspired by them, in which she identified each of their superpowers.

"Once there was a special place in a special city by a special lake," the story begins. "What was this place? It was where superheroes went to grow — though many of them didn't know they were superheroes yet."

Students make vegan slime
  • Students make vegan slime

Though the King Street Center temporarily closed in March to help slow the spread of COVID-19, that didn't stop Wayne and her group from meeting. They turned to Zoom to facilitate their gatherings. Before one session, Wayne hid drawings of bunnies with words written on their backs all around her property. The group took a virtual walk to find them, then created a poem together.

Said Wayne of the online meetings: "Our hope is that we'll continue this until we can get together in person."

Poetry is "really having a moment" right now, continued Wayne, who has been hosting poetry readings and "nature walk-alongs" through the Poartry Project since the spring of 2019.

It's an art form that provides a sense of comfort for many people, it's highly experimental, and it doesn't require proper grammar or punctuation, she explained. "It's the ultimate open canvas."

Group Poem From the Superhero 6 Afterschool Kids

Poetry journals created by the Superhero 6
  • Poetry journals created by the Superhero 6

(The last poem we wrote together in person before the pandemic)

"Rock Our World"

Rocks are cool + wet,
wet + warm.
Smooth + hard -
what makes them stick together?
Must be a galaxy
where huge branches
are light like air
and wood looks like rocks.
The rock draws me,
and I draw my heart
as the sea glass draws to
a girl in blue,
hearing her call.

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