Quiet Stars

by Matt Gano

This year I have had the privilege and honor of being artist-in-residence at The Center School in the Seattle Center. Each of the students here are intelligent, inspired, and engaged. A dream job for any teaching artist. There have been some amazing breakthroughs creatively and I am continually impressed with the level of creativity and depth of thought that has been put into each of the assignments I have presented. One of my stand-out students Riley M., on the first day, expressed his apprehension with poetry, that he was taking Jon Greenberg’s class with trepidation and not expecting to get much from it. However, it has been quite the contrary. Riley is one of the most attentive students in the class. He’s continually the first one with his hand raised offering insight to his peers’ poems, critique on the published poems we discuss in class, and working with an inspired energy on his own poems to develop his voice as a writer. Just the fact that he is now considering himself a “writer” puts a huge smile on my face.

Riley’s story is just one of many. Another student who is really shining is girl by the name of Gemma. She rarely speaks in class or shares her work, but the poems she has turned in are stellar to say the least. She is one of those quiet stars, who shine inconspicuously bright and when they choose, flare with such enormity you can’t help but take notice. She writes with the grace and style of a burgeoning Lucile Clifton, her words speaking from the page bigger than in person.

I feel very at home at Center School. This residency has been a great opportunity for me to expand my syllabus and experiment with new lessons. I attribute all of that to the talent and ability of my students. Because they are so engaged and willing to try anything I throw at them, I have been able to plan with more freedom and ultimately we have been able to grow together and explore poetry with depth and critical understanding. It is inspiring as an artist and as a teacher to have students who are willing to “go there”, who are not afraid to be who they are, and not afraid to explore further who they can be.

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