POULSBO — Students at North Kitsap High School could read snippets of Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes or Maya Angelou while passing from class to class last week, and all they had to do was look down.
As a project, students scrawled poetry on the sidewalks and stairs outside the school. Some of the poetry was that of the most famous poets in the country; other lines were the students’ own.
The project,in celebration of National Poetry Month, was carried out by several classes of teacher Erin Landvatter.
“I wanted to give them something they could share with the outside community,” Landvatter said.
The students, who were either in Landvatter’s English 12 or integrated English 11/U.S. History class, could select any poem they wanted, although Landvatter held veto rights.
“She gave us the chalk after we showed her what we were going to write,” said junior Erik Matz.
The poems could be symbols or stories. They could range in length from one word (“Ya!”) to several lines.
“‘I would like to buy a chicken,’ the man said as he handed me three eggs, two hardboiled, one scrambled. He didn’t even realize that this is a lemonade stand.”
“I just wrote things I thought were funny,” said Matz, who lifted a few lines out of Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and wrote them on the sidewalk in the front courtyard.
“Kids our ages don’t often get to read poetry,” said Jennie Slossen, also a fan of Frost, who scribbled some of her own lines of poetry for the project.
Students at other schools may not get exposed to a lot of poetry, but students at NKHS — and Landvatter’s class — do. There are writers’ circles every Friday, where students get to share poetry they have written. Students in the class have been reading Frost, Neruda, Anne Sexton and other poets.
“It really allows you to express yourself,” said junior Gale Benning.
Students who participated in the project enjoyed watching other students stop and read their work.
“I liked it. It made people more aware of poetry,” said Ashley DeFord.
Landvatter hopes the project will become a tradition at the school.
She said students who usually flee from school when class ends stopped to take a look.
“I loved the fact that they could be leaving, but instead they were standing there reading poetry,” she said. “It’s poetry in a different pace.”
Anyone who wants to do a little reading of their own will have to wait until next year. Most of the lines were removed before the week was over.