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Traveling poet-educator inspires UV middle school students to express themselves through poetry
A poet sits among studentsIt’s not easy being a teenager.

But one of the big lessons from a woman who has visited Unadilla Valley middle school students for many years is that when feelings get bottle up inside, poetry is a way to let them out. Rachel Guido deVries is a poet, writer and educator who conducts poetry workshops for schools. She recently visited middle school English classes at Unadilla Valley. The culmination of the multi-day workshops, which are coordinated by English teacher Katie Wolford, is a poetry reading by students in front of their peers and faculty.

For the first couple days of the workshop, students focus on metaphors, similes, word choices, imagery, personification and a little bit on structure. Then there is time for revision and finally a poetry reading. For many of the students instructed by Guido deVries, her workshop is their first foray into poetry.

“I thought it was very fun and interesting. I have never really written poems before like I did with her. It really gave me a chance to describe my feelings,” said student Pyper Kneale.

Kneale said she was a little apprehensive at first about sharing her feelings.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to and I didn’t know if other people were going to be expressing their feelings as much as I did, but they did,” she said.

Classmate Paris O’Dell agreed.

“I learned that expressing your feelings is important. I think it’s important because it gets your feelings out of your body,” she said.
O’Dell said she has already started writing new poems.

Allison Allen said one of the biggest takeaways for her was how poetry allows you to be creative.

“You can express your feelings without saying your feelings,” Allen said. “It helps other people understand what you feel and how you are. And they are able to see what you really are through poetry.”

The students all said they were thankful for the experience and hoped they could work with Guido deVries again.
 a student reads poetry in front of dozens of other students
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