A Scavenger Hunt

Jeevan NarneyJeevan Narney is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arizona, and was a writer-in-residence at Sam Hughes Elementary.

I think the Family Days event was the highlight out of all the field work that I did this semester. I saw the children of Tucson come out of the community to the University of Arizona Poetry Center for one purpose: poetry. The November wind blew, and the morning sun lit the roof of our hair. It was a great day. The air was soon populated with the voices of laughing children, whose ages ranged from infant to high school. The parents smiled like children themselves. They were happy to be here with their children. It's been a neat semester of seeing how the Poetry Center provides poetic opportunities to learn more about poetry to our youth in the Tucson community.

A scavenger hunt. Very exciting. No boys, but four boisterous girls ranging from 2nd grade to 5th grade, who were interested in my activity. We went outside in the Poetry Center's Meditation Garden. It was a relatively quiet day, but the girls' voices were giddy and gushed with ideas of what they thought might come into the grasp of their hands during the hunt. I told them to look to become hunters and gathers. "Go look for the unexpected. Stones, flowers, leaves, a scrap of paper. Who knows what you will find? I'll even go exploring with you." The garden looks simple to an adult like me, but for a child, they easily explore an area more complexly than I suppose it to be. The students came back with ripple smooth rocks and aging soft leaves. But, they saw beyond the surface of trees and leaves. There was a story, a poem, to be landscaped with crayon and colored pencils, which I provided on the table in the patio area. They calmed down and held on to my directions, which wobbled out awkwardly, but surely. It was a growing experience for me to speak clearly, in the air growing slightly warm with more sun. My assignment was to pretend that they were the object that they found.  "If I were a rock..." They wrote poems, exchanging ideas back and forth. They drew pictures with their poems. But, there was one girl who preferred just to draw. Colors swam on the blank white papers. I was impressed.  I realized that for them the creative process is as tangible as holding a rock.

Soon the four girls stopped the activity and skipped inside. The rest of the Poetry Center was lit with the exuberance of small children ranging from infant to high school students. I circled the room briefly, feeling the energy of all the activities pulsing like a fast beating heart. I think I've learned that children's imaginations reap like the good light of this morning, just as I had experienced with the elementary students once I was dedicated to letting the students go wild with their lyrics on the page.

It was fun to be outside and watch their poems come to life on paper, once we got down on our knees and discovered what we could find there among the wintered objects that stirred the young children's imaginations.

It was delightful for me to be part of their creative lives, though our time together was as brief as the daylight is for one day. I learned to be a poetry leader to four girls in the Meditation Garden. I learned to listen intently. Soon after, they became the poetry leaders leading me through their giggly, but profound lyrics.

Family Days for Fall 2012, starts September 22nd. Join us!

Created on: 
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Arizona Board of Regents