projects we love

April 11, 2018

Here’s a heartwarming project that came by way of a forwarded email.

At Oakton Elementary, in Oakton, Virginia (Fairfax County), Andrew Relihan’s 6th-grade class has opened a Poem Store. Inspired by a visit to Bellingham and the typewriter performance work of Erica Reed and Natalie Fedak, Mr. Relihan’s class invites people to suggest a topic, provide a mailing or email address, and then “Pick your price: Once you have thoroughly enjoyed your custom made poem we ask you to pay what it was worth to you (not to exceed $5).” They created a Google form for the orders and a dedicated page for payments.

Andrew Relihan explains: “The funds collected from our Poem Store will go toward buying the materials needed to build a middle school for the community of Tres Reyes in Honduras. The community’s school currently only has room for students up to 6th grade and will give those students a chance to continue their education! This effort will be carried out by Students Helping Honduras and the One Thousand School initiative.” Relihan spent a week last summer helping bring La Escuela Yolanda Melindez in Santa Rita one step closer to its completion (officially opened January 2018), working alongside members of the community, both young and old, stacking bricks, mixing cement, and sharing stories and meals with each other.

In an email received yesterday, Mr. Relihan says, Monday “was the first day that students worked on ‘filling orders.’ They were a little overwhelmed at the prospect of writing for an actual audience, but it was clear that they were motivated to put their best work down on paper. They will have the rest of the week to work on filling orders during our Language Arts block, and I’d imagine that a few students would be motivated to continue filling orders in their free time (assuming we have anyone who comes to the table late).”

To support this wonderful National Poetry Month project, click on the Google form link and name your topic!

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Poem Store, Bellingham Farmers Market

Hard to beat Erica Reed’s post on Facebook, so here it is:

We started almost a year ago. We began with nervous fingers, one typewriter named Penney, a jar for flowers, and not enough spatial awareness to safely fit coffee cups beside typewriters. We’ve been typing all year. From summer sun, to fall leaves in our keys, through stiff winter fingers and chattering teeth, all the way through the spring rains, we’ve been so happy to write. (Almost) every weekend, we lug our typewriters down to the Bellingham Farmers Market, and wait for people to ask us for poems. We will write about anything. Just ask. We’ve gotten requests for garden poems, Bellingham poems, poems about robot sex, secret fears, capitalism, god, bells, and so so many love poems. We have given away our words, and been awe struck at the words we’ve gotten in return. You’ve made us cry (not easy to do, lemme tell ya) and you’ve reminded us that this thing we’ve chosen to do with our lives, this being poets thing, it’s not too shabby. It brings you joy and sometimes tears, and you bring us confirmation in our passion.

Visit the Poem Store between 9:30am and 2pm on Saturdays in front of La Fiamma on Railroad Avenue near the Bellingham Farmers Market.

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