Liberty City students find outlet through poetry

Program teaches third, fourth graders to write verse

MIAMI – For young Liberty City students, overcoming writer's block to describe a stone or leaf is already big progress.

It's a long way from the type of poems they were writing several weeks ago.

"First-day students writing about gun violence in their neighborhood, I was impressed," Laurel Nakanishi said. "Their first time with poetry and it just poured out of them."

Nakanishi is the creator of the Sun Room, a program going into Liberty City schools to teach creative writing to third- and fourth-graders. This room is where poetry becomes therapy.

"It's a lot of work, but you got to just do it,” said 10-year-old Er'monii Redford.

Teachers told Local 10 News recently they’ve had to walk some of those poetry students home past some horrific crime scenes. So they are all desperate to get inside those gates, get inside that room, where for at least a moment, they can express themselves and feel safe.

Working with nonprofit O' Miami and the Children's Trust, the Sun Room teaches 50 students over 10 sessions per semester. They are working in Orchard Park Elementary and Poinciana Park Elementary, where principal Dr. Amrita Prakash said she is seeing clear results.

"When they come in and are able to express that in a free, clear environment, their shoulders are relaxed, it's a place where they can be who they were meant to be -- 8- and 9- year-old children," Prakash said.

Some examples of the poetry are below:

Orchard Park Elementary
4th grade

Things I Can’t See
By: Alex

I know hope is in the air.
I hope I will see tomorrow.
Even though I know
I can’t see the thing,
I know it is there.

My Heart
By: Francklin

My heart is an empty house.
Yesterday, it was
Yesterday it was black.
Tomorrow it
will be a full
house. It will be
My heart.

This Is My Home Town
By: Francklin

I am from Liberty City
where sometimes the temperature is just right.
I am from a place where the balls
dribble, dribble, dribble all day.
I am not from a place like yours.
I live in a dangerous place.
I am not from a place with bad people.
I hear police sirens screeching.
We also have many parks with red slides
and hurricanes with strong winds.
I am from a place where flowers like to bloom.
and the sky is blue like God loves you.

For Grandma, My Love
By: Isaiah

Your hugs fill me up with love
like a balloon and spits out all the hate.





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