Sparking the Creativity in Junior Youth

November 14, 2011

By Venustiano Olguin

A few months ago I was invited to conduct a poetics seminar with a group of junior youth at the Sterling Pointe apartment complex in Beaverton, Oregon as part of the work being done by several Junior Youth Animators from the Beaverton Baha’i  community. As a retired college instructor with an M.A. in Poetics, I jumped at the chance to see what it would be like to work with youth in helping them to create poetry.

We met during the middle of a Wednesday afternoon at the Junior Youth Animator’s apartment. About twelve junior youth showed up for the seminar, a diverse group of Baha’is, Christians and Muslims from several different cultural backgrounds. Immediately I saw that the junior youth were eager to start learning how to write a poem and that the inherent diversity in the group added to the creative excitement.

We started out by discussing the basic structure of a poem, which consists of an introduction, body and conclusion. In talking about the elements of a poem, we covered such concepts such as what is a metaphor, the cadence, rhythm and possible rhyming patterns of a poem—and how these are determined by the effect that the poet wants to have on his or her audience.

After this, we proceeded, person by person, to discuss the ideas that they had for the focus of their individual poems. It was especially at this point that I once again became aware that junior youth are truly gems of inestimable value waiting to become polished diamonds! Each participant had a fresh, creative approach to the topic that he or she had in mind together with a desire to put it into poetic expression.

About an hour and a half of silence ensued as the junior youth focused on their poetic efforts. Then came the climax, as each participant read his or her poem. The results truly reflected the diversity within the group. Some of the poems were almost finished works, while others were still in developmental stages. But the entire process displayed a wonderful combination of unity in diversity, as each presentation was given attention with respect. I learned that given proper direction, encouragement and inspiration, the creativity in junior youth can truly be unleashed.

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