Rebekah Johnson's illustration will be included in the "Star Poets Hawaii Poetry Resource Guide." Rebekah is a second-grader at Ahuimanu Elementary.

Young poets

A lot of us never get past the "roses are red" stage when it comes to the poetic form of literary expression. Too bad for us.

Poetry is among the most concise and colorful forms of storytelling, able to capsulize emotion and experience with purity. As an example, see "The Bubble," at right, about the simple pleasure of bath time.

It was written by a third-grader and took first place for that age group in the Star Poets competition sponsored by Windward Community College and Starbucks Coffee Hawaii (perhaps in a nod to the romantic old days of coffee-shop poetry readings).

This year, the sixth since the contest began in 1999, more than 2,800 students in grades 3 through 12 submitted work, covering topics including friendship, family, war, even rubbah slippahs.

"When you read their words, you hear all the joy, confusion and pain of growing up," said Libby Young, WCC journalism professor and founder of the Star Poets program. "They care about their families and friends and the state of the world, and they want to give voice to those feelings."

The young poets will be recognized Sunday at "A Star Poets Celebration" at WCC's Paliku Theatre. It will be a day of free poetry readings and workshops, ending with an awards ceremony in which the 71 Star Poets will be given $1,500 in awards (their schools will receive another $6,050 for literacy programs).

The event runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m., with the awards ceremony at 3 p.m. Among those leading workshops are author Lois-Ann Yamanaka, poet Sue Cowing, poet-in-the-schools leader Susan Lee St. John and author Joe Tsujimoto. Among their topics will be use of imagery, mixing poetry with video technology, and the ever-basic "What is a Poem?"

The Star Poets program is also producing a poetry resource guide, including ideas for teaching poetry at all age levels. It will be distributed to school libraries statewide.

For details call 235-7396 or e-mail libby@hawaii.edu.

The Windward Community College's site, www.wcc.hawaii.edu, will post all the Star Poets' winning entries by the end of June. The poetry resource guide will be available through the same site this summer.


"The Bubble"

My brother and I love to play with bubbles.

Our mom gets our bath ready as I squeeze

sticky, clear soap onto my hand.

Before I get into the tub, I get my hands wet,

then rub them together into a lather.

I curl my fingertips into a circle

and blow through the glistening window.

My 3-year-old brother watches the bubble grow.

I let it go and watch

As the big bubble floats in the air.

I see the rainbow colors

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue,

and purple in the glittering bubble.

As it floats toward my brother,

At the other end of the tub,

it spins and bounces.

It gets closer and closer to my brother

and disappears on his nose.

Then we laugh.

Star Poet first-place winner, grade 3

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