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Students share poetic imagination

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ST. IGNATIUS – Young poets gathered at Mission Elementary School on Friday to share their creative lines.

 The poetry reading was the finale after a nine-week workshop with writer-in-residence Rachel Mindell. The Missoula Writing Collaborative and Indian Education Council brought Mindell to the school to help fourth and fifth grade students develop their poetic skills.

Caramia Never Miss A Shot, third grader, learned to appreciate poetry during the workshops. She shared her thoughts before the reading.

“I learned to like poetry by listening to Miss Mindell,” she said. “She taught us that you don’t have to write about your feelings. You can write about what you like or important things like family and your life.”

Dimitry Glessner, fourth grade, wrote about a broken leg.

“You can write about many, many different things,” he said.

The students took turns reading their best poems to a packed house in the multi-purpose room. Before the students got started, Caroline Patterson, MWC Executive Director, welcomed students and audience to the event.

Poet Heather Cahoon read from her collection “Horsefly Dress.” She also helped students with their poems during a workshop. She is a graduate of Mission High School and has several awards including the 2015 Montana Arts Council Artist Innovation Award, the 2000 Richard Hugo Memorial Scholarship, and the 2005 Merriam-Frontier Award.

Aspen Smith translated student Ameah Hunt’s poem about nature and water from English to Salish, giving the students the opportunity to hear poetry in another language.

Mindell thanked the school for allowing her to teach the kids and the Indian Education Council for supporting the project. She also thanked teachers Tim Krantz, Pam Rodeghiero, Chris Eichert, and Lloyd Phillips.

Mission Elementary School is one of five schools on the Flathead Reservation receiving support from the National Endowment for the Arts grant to help bring a writer-in-residence into the school. Mission, Arlee, Dixon, Ronan, and Pablo divided the $30,000 NEA Art Works Grant awarded to the Missoula Writing Collaborative on Aug. 17, 2015.

The NEA Art Works program began in 2014 and placed four Missoula Writing Collaborative writers in schools across the reservation including Alex Alviar, Emily Freeman, Caroline Keys, and Rachel Mindell to teach literary competence, critical thinking, cultural awareness, and artistic joy.


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