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Verse inspires Leeds School students at poetry cafe 

  • Leeds School third graders from Jesse Pompei's class gather around a table of treats during her annual poetry cafe, a reading of the children's poetry April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Leeds School third graders from Jesse Pompei's class gather around a table of treats during her annual poetry cafe, a reading of the children's poetry April 30 at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Andrew Meyer, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School, smiles while sharing his poetry during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Andrew Meyer, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School, smiles while sharing his poetry during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jacob Penn, a third-grade student at Leeds School, reads his poetry during an annual poetry cafe by members of Jesse Pompei's class  April 30 at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Jacob Penn, a third-grade student at Leeds School, reads his poetry during an annual poetry cafe by members of Jesse Pompei's class April 30 at the school.

    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gabby Fox shares her poetry during an annual poetry cafe by third graders in Jesse Pompei's class April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Gabby Fox shares her poetry during an annual poetry cafe by third graders in Jesse Pompei's class April 30 at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • June Steere, a third-grade student at Leeds School, points to an audience member who is trying to guess the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    June Steere, a third-grade student at Leeds School, points to an audience member who is trying to guess the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe April 30 at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dallas Elliott, a third-grade student at Leeds School, returns to his seat after sharing his poetry during an annual poetry cafe April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Dallas Elliott, a third-grade student at Leeds School, returns to his seat after sharing his poetry during an annual poetry cafe April 30 at the school.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Charlotte Ribe, a third-grade student at Leeds School, shares her poetry during an annual poetry cafe last month at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Charlotte Ribe, a third-grade student at Leeds School, shares her poetry during an annual poetry cafe last month at the school.

    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sylvie Mahon-Moore, left, and Leah Abel-Waisman, second from left, read a poem together during the annual poetry cafe for Leeds School third graders in Jesse Pompei's class. Pompei listens, top.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Sylvie Mahon-Moore, left, and Leah Abel-Waisman, second from left, read a poem together during the annual poetry cafe for Leeds School third graders in Jesse Pompei's class. Pompei listens, top.

    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Chloe Cohen, left, and Leah Abel-Waisman, read a poem by Cohen titled "How to be a Millionaire" during an annual poetry cafe by students in Jesse Pompei's third-grade class April 30 at Leeds School.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Chloe Cohen, left, and Leah Abel-Waisman, read a poem by Cohen titled "How to be a Millionaire" during an annual poetry cafe by students in Jesse Pompei's third-grade class April 30 at Leeds School.

    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Koa Villagomez smiles while reading his poetry.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Koa Villagomez smiles while reading his poetry.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maria Dean, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School in Northampton, fields fellow students'  guesses about the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Maria Dean, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School in Northampton, fields fellow students' guesses about the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.

    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maria Dean, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School in Northampton, fields fellow students'  guesses about the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Maria Dean, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School in Northampton, fields fellow students' guesses about the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.

    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Leeds School third graders from Jesse Pompei's class gather around a table of treats during her annual poetry cafe, a reading of the children's poetry April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Andrew Meyer, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School, smiles while sharing his poetry during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Jacob Penn, a third-grade student at Leeds School, reads his poetry during an annual poetry cafe by members of Jesse Pompei's class  April 30 at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Gabby Fox shares her poetry during an annual poetry cafe by third graders in Jesse Pompei's class April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • June Steere, a third-grade student at Leeds School, points to an audience member who is trying to guess the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Dallas Elliott, a third-grade student at Leeds School, returns to his seat after sharing his poetry during an annual poetry cafe April 30 at the school.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Charlotte Ribe, a third-grade student at Leeds School, shares her poetry during an annual poetry cafe last month at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Sylvie Mahon-Moore, left, and Leah Abel-Waisman, second from left, read a poem together during the annual poetry cafe for Leeds School third graders in Jesse Pompei's class. Pompei listens, top.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Chloe Cohen, left, and Leah Abel-Waisman, read a poem by Cohen titled "How to be a Millionaire" during an annual poetry cafe by students in Jesse Pompei's third-grade class April 30 at Leeds School.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Koa Villagomez smiles while reading his poetry.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Maria Dean, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School in Northampton, fields fellow students'  guesses about the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Maria Dean, left, a third-grade student at Leeds School in Northampton, fields fellow students'  guesses about the subject of her haiku during an annual poetry cafe in late April at the school.<br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

S ome wrote about their favorite food, others about sports or annoying siblings, and one gave directions about how to be a ninja. Jesse Pompei’s third-grade class at Leeds School listened to, read and wrote poetry for six weeks this semester, hard (and fun) work that culminated in a poetry caf e last week.

“I think it’s really fun, and I think I want to be a poet when I get older,” said Amelia Ritt, 9, of Florence.

Ritt and classmate Alli Flynn read in sync a poem that they’d written about poetry itself. Their verse provided an apt start to the evening, concluding,

“You are the leader from beginning to end
When you make a new poem
You could make a new friend.”

The 45-some family members, friends and students who attended the caf e April 30, when 17 students read their work, listened with an enthusiasm made clear by the laughter and applause that filled the room. The event marked the end of National Poetry Month.

From reading published poets, to thinking of their own ideas, to crafting a poem and honing a final product, there are many steps to the process, as students learned firsthand during their study of poetry.

“Tonight was my favorite because you get to go up there and read all your poems to everybody,” said June Steere, 9, of Florence.

Pompei said during the unit, she immersed the class in poetry, having her students read about 30 poets. They talked daily about different types of poems. When it came time to write, they were encouraged to choose whichever type and whatever topic that inspired them.

Dylan Hurlburt, 8, of Florence was inspired by a pet to write about a rabbit. The poem was a haiku that described the animal. He asked the audience to guess what animal he was writing about. One person guessed a bat. Hurlburt had to spell out the first three letters of “hare” before anyone guessed correctly. He later said reading his haiku and having people guess the animal was his favorite part.

Pompei said the benefits of the unit are multi-faceted.

“They learn so much from poetry and from reading aloud,” said Pompei, who has been teaching at Leeds for three years. “They learn to express themselves better, which helps in all other forms of writing.”

She said that she found the idea for the Poetry Cafe online, and thought she could adapt it for the school community.

“A lot of the students don’t have the opportunity to share their work in front of a crowd, and I love doing anything that involves the families,” she said.

Leeds student Dallas Elliott presented poems about baseball, pizza and one titled “Me” that proclaimed, “I can’t be anyone but me.”

His mom, Devon Elliott, said she enjoyed the cafe because of the insight it gave her into her son and the other students.

“It’s so cool to hear the different imaginations of all the kids coming out,” she said. “It really shows who they are.”

June Steere says that though she doesn’t plan on being a poet for her future career, she intends to see that writing poetry plays a role in her life.

One of the lessons she took to heart, she noted, is this: “To write, you don’t need to have all the perfect words.”

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