The latest 5 Columns project at Stevenson Elementary School allowed students to discover their inner poet -- even if they didn't know it.

The latest 5 Columns project at Stevenson Elementary School allowed students to discover their inner poet -- even if they didn't know it.

Columbus writer Amy Greenberg made her second visit to the school earlier this month, spending several days creating "found poetry" with students.

Greenberg cut out words and phrases from magazines and students perused the strips of paper and chose the ones they liked or connected with.

Then they used the words or phrases as starting blocks for short poems, adding their own words around the ones they had chosen.

"I like the idea of students creating found poems using these bits of words because it shows you can find the inspiration of poetry in anything," Greenberg said.

"My main thing is that everyone should be given a chance to feel like they can write," she said.

Having a few words to start with "makes it easier to write something than starting with a blank piece of white paper," Greenberg said. "For anybody, that empty piece of paper can be intimidating."

To prepare for the project, Greenberg scoured a variety of magazines.

"I filled bag after bag with scraps I cut out of them," she said. "I tried to find words that could spark their interest and inspire them."

Students from each grade level had the chance to pick words and phrases and create their own poems.

"Some of the poems they came up with were so funny and some of them were so deep," Greenberg said. "Once they began opening up, they could express some profound feelings in just a few words."

One student's poem contained the phrase, "Late bloomers end up in heaven."

"Being a late bloomer myself, I found that one really moving," Greenberg said.

Many students chose to write poems about Columbus, 5 Columns project coordinator Henrietta Cartwright said.

"I was really struck by their sense of pride and identity of living in the Columbus area," she said.

One of the poems Cartwright liked best stated, "Small people got skills."

"Doesn't that say a lot?" she said.

Greenberg, who participates in the Ohio Alliance for Art Education's Artists-in-Schools and the Ohio Arts Council's Arts Learning programs, has been facilitating found-poetry projects with both adult and student groups for close to 20 years.

"I especially like working with children because they haven't developed the practice of self-censoring yet," she said. "They're so open to expressing what they are feeling."

Students were able to write as many poems as they wanted. During their visit with Greenberg, a third-grade class eagerly talked about their poems and shared them with each other.

Jack Shepherd, 9, wrote a poem that read, "Coming home for the holidays is always so comfortable to meet your family."

"The holidays are important to me because I get to see family members I don't usually get to see, because they live out of state," he said. "That's what I like most about the holidays."

A poem written by Abby Palmisciano, 9, also was inspired by family.

Her poem read, "Celebrate the extraordinary life of sassy teen(s) because someday you will be too fancy but not too fancy to look back and appreciate it."

She said she wrote the poem "because I always wondered why my cousin was always so super-shy and could be super- rude.

"This year at Christmastime I asked my mom and dad and they told me it's because he's a teen and it's harder to keep their cool when they're a teen, and I wanted to write a poem about that," Abby said.

The 5 Columns Project is named after the five metal columns installed last school year on Stevenson's front lawn.

Each segment of the 5 Columns Project involves the columns in some way.

Cartwright said she will place students' poems on banners that will be attached to the columns later this month.

"People will be able to stop by and read these wonderful poems," she said.

The mission of the project is to connect Grandview schools and community through art, Cartwright said.

The 5 Columns Project is a nonprofit organization funded through grants, donations and in-kind contributions. Partners include ART WORKS -- National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the city of Grandview Heights and the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Education Foundation.

For more information or to make a donation, visit www.5columns.org.

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