NORTH ANDOVER — You name it, they wrote a poem about it.
At least 70 North Andover High School students presented the second annual Poetry Jam on Friday. They wrote poems about nature, their families, summer vacations and childhood memories.
One student penned a poem about her dog; another dedicated several lines to her aging teddy bear.
A young man recounted his victory in a tae kwon do match; a young woman recalled “daily water fights” at summer camp. Several students read and translated poems written in German. Others accompanied their work with music.
Mary Gregoire, head of the NAHS English department, and Karen Kline, North Andover’s poet laureate, who coordinated the Poetry Jam, both said they were pleased with the creativity of the young people.
Ben Gleed, a junior enrolled in an Advanced Placement English class, wrote two poems. “True Knowledge” was based on a quote from Henry David Thoreau, while “The Fighter” told the story of the tae kwon do match he won against a seemingly overwhelmingly powerful opponent four years ago.
The Thoreau quote was, “It is only when we forget our learning, do we begin to know.” Gleed ended his poem with this message: “Decide how you want to live your life; it is your turn to run the show!”
In “The Fighter,” Gleed, a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do, described “a perfect balance of attack and defense.” Although “he hits the floor with an audible thud,” the fighter “staggers back to the ring.”
“Perseverence will always vanquish defeat,” Gleed declares. With “his kicks and his punches striking like lightning,” he wins the match, “Because this child knows that he is a fighter.”
Gleed, 16, told The Eagle-Tribune he has been studying tae kwon do for nine years – more than half of his life.
Patrick Wolfgang and Alex Gruber, both juniors, teamed up and wrote a poem based on the philosophies of Thoreau and his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. Wolfgang would read one verse, then Gruber would read the next, until they had finished their literary creation.
“I am the pilot of my own plane, I control where I fly,
I will not listen to ground control, until I find my corner of the sky,” reads one verse. Indeed, Thoreau advocated marching to one’s own drummer.
“My views may seem misguided when compared to another opinion; However, I do not falter; I am my own man and not a minion,” reads another verse. Both Thoreau and Emerson would have endorsed that declaration of autonomy of the individual.
Lauren McElroy, a junior, shared her childhood memories in “Cedar Lane,” the name of the street on which she resided during her younger days. She recalled playing baseball with the “bigger boys,” even though they always won.
She also wrote of running after the ice cream truck, trying futilely to catch up to it.
“I relentlessly chased the ice cream truck that could not be caught,
But it made me realize that never giving up was worth a lot.”
Describing her dog when she was just a puppy, Lindsey Smith wrote, “You romp and play throughout the day.”
Torrie Sullivan warned that her poem about her old teddy bear was morbid.
“Lucy, you don’t look the same,” she wrote.
“Every poet here had at least one line – if not the whole work – that was memorable. I wonder if they know how good they are?” Kline said after the Poetry Jam concluded.