In a wild 3 days, the Nebraska Pen Pal Poets Program brought Colleen O’Doherty, Fernando Montejano and me to BDS Middle School in Davenport, Lawrence/Nelson schools, Fairbury HS/Junior High, and Thayer Central High School in Hebron while also doing readings at the Red Cloud Opera House and at the Blue Bison in Hebron.
It was a whirlwind trip which got great student response as we talked poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, science fiction and so much more.
Colleen, now in Chicago, is mainly doing playwriting but kept students entertained with poems like a love poem for chocolate, a persona poem from the point of view of the mother of a school shooter, and more. Fernando put on his rocket boots and riled up students (in a good way) with all sorts of poems about the bad things we do as kids, love for science fiction, and so many good things.
It was an honor to share the stage with them at the Red Cloud Opera House, thanks to the National Willa Cather Center. We also saw the windy landscapes of south-central Nebraska and got some great food recommendations from students (who always say “Runza” but also pointed us to places like RWs in Davenport).
I’m grateful to support from Humanities Nebraska, and everything made possible by the Academy of American Poets with funds from the Mellon Foundation. The more programs like this that we can bring out to audiences in Nebraska, the better a place to live we’ll have.