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Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

Young Poets Recite

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   Any publisher will tell you that poetry-that music of the soul, that sublime agent of universal values-relies as much on successful marketing and distribution as it does on the inspirational muses if it stands any hope of reaching an attentive ear.

  For its summer program, ArtWorks for Milwaukee, a local nonprofit organization that provides teens with paid apprenticeships in the arts to teach them critical employment skills, attempted to familiarize students with the personal and pragmatic ends of poetry publishing. Eight high-school students from Milwaukee Public Schools were chosen from a pool of 30 applicants to write, edit and organize their poetry into a chapbook under the tutelage of poet and former UW-Milwaukee instructor Kathleen Dale. With the help of local enterprises like Clark Graphics, Woodland Pattern Book Center and Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, their eight-week labor of love has been turned into a chapbook titled Through the Eyes of Our Mirror, available to purchase at the latter two locations.

  This collaboration demonstrates the unifying properties of the poetic arts. It also proved Dale's long-held suspicion that "everyone has a little [poetic] spark in them." She wasn't surprised by the way her students threw themselves into their assignment-writing poems, organizing themselves into an editorial board, working on the artwork and presentation of the book, forging connections with local businesses and printers and marketing their finished product-but she was encouraged by the way the group evolved.

  "They all grew and progressed in different ways," Dale says. "Some who'd never thought of writing poetry discovered a talent they never knew they had."

  The chapbook includes the work of Demetrius Cooper, Tiara Cannon, Clara Forrest, Savanna Pryor, Danielle Moore Sanders,Michael Baker, Lawrence Frater and Mikael Luter. The latter three are also responsible for the drawings on the cover of the book. Many of these young poets will be appearing at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop on Downer Avenue, Thursday, Aug. 28, to read from the chapbook (which will be available for sale). The event begins at 6:30 pm. Proceeds will go to ArtWorks for Milwaukee to help with future programming.