There’s a famous Whitney Houston song that starts, “I believe the children are our future.” It is a sentiment that O, Miami took to heart at the Les Petites Poètes event on April 2 at the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach. Showcasing the talents of the littlest literati from elementary schools in Sunrise, Broward County, and Liberty City, Miami-Dade County, the young poets in training got the chance to read their original works for their families, friends, and supporters.
The culmination of a two-month long project in partnership with O, Miami and the City of Sunrise’s Word Up! Poetry Initiative, Les Petites Poètes helped the participating students develop their poems with the help of in-classroom writing coaches Laurel Nakanishi and Ellene Glenn Moore – MFA candidates from FIU’s Creative Writing Program. They then selected their best pieces to get them ready for the chapbook that was specially created for the reading. Poems like the one read by Latavia Smith, of Poinciana Park Elementary, titled “Blue:”
It is a plain sky, a nice day to be on a picnic
eating grilled cheese sandwiches
and the grass is green.
The color of my hair ribbon holding my hair back.
The slide at my park.
The color of my room.
My room feels like it is winter.
I feel like I am floating in the air.
Two highlights from the reading were the young guests invited to provide inspiration for the petites poètes. One was Broward College student Marnino Toussaint, whose soulful, spoken-word artistry showed a mastery well beyond his boyish 19 years. Another was Chastity Hale, 17, still a junior at Miami Arts High. She read a poem selected last October by the National Student Poets Program and read to First Lady Michelle Obama, who is an honorary chairwoman for the program.
With this caliber of young artists to serve as their role models, and after some well-deserved refreshments, the young poets went forth happily towards their lyrically bright futures.
Clidiane Aubourg is a writer living in Miami, Fl. She will be contributing blog posts for O, Miami Poetry Festival 2016.