Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 20, 2014

Lifelines: 30 years of poetry lessons still pay off

A high school girl recently told me that she worked so hard on her poem in fourth grade during my writing workshop, she cried.

Now, seven years later we laughed and she said, “Thanks!”

A young man showed up at Stone Circle with his guitar last summer. He told the audience that I’d visited his school when he was in fifth grade, and recited parts of Beowulf to his class.

He said I told students how Beowulf didn’t want to settle down in his youth, but traveled the known world fighting monsters. The young man claimed hearing that poem changed him.

He likes to fight monsters, now, only he uses his guitar and songs instead of a sword or his bare hands.

Hearing young people tell me stories like this makes my life feel well lived. I’ve been visiting schools and conducting writing workshops now for 30 years.

For National Poetry Month I’d like to share a few blossoming poets’ first attempts at writing free verse.

The poems celebrate and capture moments of their young lives. Writing or memorizing a poem is one of the few things in life that enriches you without costing a cent.

Poet Bard Terry Wooten has been performing and conducting writing workshops in schools for 30 years. He is also the creator of Stone Circle, a triple ring of boulders featuring poetry, storytelling and music on his property north of Elk Rapids. Learn more at



Leah Anderson fifth grade

Willow Hill Elementary

On the beach

doing cartwheels,

Sophie and I

splashed into the water

freezing as ice.

My clothes soaked

all the way to my neck.

Sophie tripped on a big rock,

fell under

with a scream.

We got out

dripping water

wet with laughter


First Day

Carter Suppes

Bellaire Elementary fifth grade

I was nervous

and scared as a turkey at the butchers.

Mom said I would live.

I didn’t believe.

I wasn’t sure

what would happen at school.

At the end of the day

I realized

it wasn’t bad,

until I learned about homework.

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