Northwest Poet Laureates share their experience

The 2019 Northwest Poet Laureates stand in the library. This year, there were 19 submissions to the competition.

On Feb. 13, Northwest students from all grades gathered in the media center filled with anticipation.  At the ceremony, the 2019 Poet Laureates were announced and three poets moved on to the state level competition.  Out of the 19 Northwest students who entered the competition, junior Oriana Bunting, sophomore Mycheal Warner and senior Emma Welsh became the 2019 Poet Laureates.  They will participate in several poetry programs through the Greensboro Public Library and represent Northwest at the state level. Senior Noah West was an honorable mention awardee, but will not move on to the next level of the competition.  

The poems ranged in styles from lyrical poems to haikus to illustrated poems, including topics ranging from Danny DeVito to mental health.  Local judges ranked each poem on a scale and librarian Natalie Strange helped in making the final selections. The judges mentioned that they enjoyed all the poems and the variety of subjects they touched on.

“I entered three different poems; one of them was about my life in general, just speculation.  One of my poems was about my cat, and one was just about puppets,” Bunting said.

Bunting found inspiration for her poems from her daily life.  She mentions that many of the events in her life have influenced her writing, especially her poems.

“The one where I’m just observing my life, that just came out of ‘what if my life were a book?’” Bunting said. “That idea just kind of sprouted.”

Others have different inspiration for their poems.

“I named one ‘Another Shooting’ which is based on school shootings, I named one ‘A Storm is Brewing,’ which is named after Desert Storm, a specific military operation led by the U.S,” Warner said. “I named one ‘Good and Truth, Evil and Lie,’ which is the mix between one side and the other and how they are intertwined.”

Warner has found that his experience with creative writing has helped him become a better poet.  

The one where I’m just observing my life, that just came out of ‘what if my life were a book?’ That idea just kind of sprouted.”

— Bunting

“(I enjoy) creative writing, specifically philosophy,” Warner said. “The thought of what do people think, a mixture of psychology and sociology.  The thought of what makes us think, what makes us human? Why are we who we are? And who are we?”

Others used a different way to dive into poetry.  

“I am not a writer, I don’t really call myself a writer,” Bunting said. “I used to really hate poems because every single time we talked about poems it was always ‘what is the sub-meaning that the author is trying to create?’ or ‘what is the author’s purpose and tone?’ and you had to analyze the poem so I didn’t really enjoy them.  It wasn’t until I took a creative writing class that I was reintroduced to just writing in general, poems especially. You get experience through things like that.”

These poet laureates also share their advice for new and aspiring poets.  

“You can write anything, anywhere, anytime,” Warner said. “It can be anything you think of, you hear, you see.  It doesn’t have to make sense as long as it makes sense to you.”

These poets encourage writing about anything and everything, emphasizing that you don’t always have to follow a set process or series of steps.  Instead, they encourage writing when the idea comes to you and using emotion to draw the reader in.

“It’s just kind of spontaneous when I write (poems),”  West said, “It can be months before I write one, but for another (poem) it can be two days later because I just get an idea.  It’s just when I see something, or someone says something, or I think of something, I just have to write. Usually, I try to write it that day when I hear it.”

Bunting has similar thoughts.  She also encourages people to write poems in any way, shape or form.

“Poems don’t have to have rhyme or reason to them,” Bunting said. “They don’t have to be structured.  They can have a free verse; you don’t have to rhyme these two words, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.  They can be about anything; they can be as long as they want, they can be as short as they want.”

Poetry provides a way for everyone to express their feelings and connect with others through the written and spoken word.  While many people find writing poems difficult and time-consuming, it can still be a rewarding experience, according to West.

“Go with the flow, don’t let anything hold you back,” West said. “When you think of something, just write.  Don’t try too hard to make something sound nice. Just go with whatever feels right. Don’t be afraid to be yourself when you write.”