LAWRENCE — Giggling and hiding her face in her sweater, Nilka Torres approached the podium. After taking a deep breath she unfolded a piece of paper from which she read "Meeting and Passing" a poem by Robert Frost.
Once she was done, she refolded the paper and joined her classmates.
Nilka, 13, was one of half a dozen seventh- and eighth-graders from the Emily Wetherbee School who read at the Lawrence farmers market yesterday.
In addition to Frost, they recited poems by Spanish poet Rafael Alberti and the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
Tamara Allen, 13, was the only student to read her own poem, titled, "Weird."
The students were invited to read at the market by the Robert Frost Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing attention to Frost's work and life and the connection to Lawrence.
Born in San Francisco, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet moved to Lawrence at age 11. He published his first poem in the Lawrence High School Bulletin. He graduated from Lawrence High in 1892. Coincidentally, Wetherbee was a poet and Lawrence High teacher, whose students included Frost. She wrote about the local scene and the dedication of the local mill owners and workers.
Torres said there is no other poet better than Frost, "I like him because his poems have a lot of feelings," she said.
The junior high students are learning poetry from teacher Lisa Stott.
In past years, Stott a teacher for 10 years, said students have written about tragedies in their lives, loss, as well as their hopes and dreams. The poems are compiled and published.
"Poetry is a way for them to express themselves and connect with other people to feel what they feel," Stott said.
Yesterday's reading ended with Schorr and students Danyelie Rosario and Diomedes Anziani reading Martin Espada's poem, "Alabanza," which is Spanish for "In Praise of..." a tribute to victims of Sept. 11.
Rosario said poetry means the world to her.
"Instead of a long paragraph, it's little words that come from inside you that lets people know who you are and your emotions," Rosario said.
Readings will continue through October on Appleton Way and will include a Neruda-style ode to the men and women who sell fruits and vegetables at the market, Schorr said.