· Powerful Poetry: Annika Smith ·
After speaking with Annika Smith, senior at Buhler High School, it’s clear that teachers really do help change the world. Annika, a/k/a Anni, is an excellent example.
I only met Annika in April during her book signing at Bookends book store in Hutchinson, KS. I didn’t know that she considered herself a shy learner. What I observed was a person who had successfully published a book of her poetry during her junior year in high school, scheduled her own book reading, and was clearly a passionate performing artist.
I had no way of knowing that Annika had a life-changing moment as a student during her sophomore year. Annika had the awesome experience of learning from Samantha, a/k/a/ Sam, or Mrs. Neill, when Neill taught English.
Annika recalls the moment: “I fell in love with her, the way she taught, her passion, the way she broke it down for all the students. She made it plain and simple for us. It was the way she communicated with us. She’s the person who made me want to be an English teacher.”
Mrs. Neill had a more relaxed class than other classes. In her class, Annika recalls, “We’d have class discussions, not all homework. We’d read a novel and then talk about it. It was more like a conversation—a relaxed way of learning.”
Because of Mrs. Neill’s teaching style, and the freedom she gave her students, Annika changed. Anni had a purpose, a direction. Going into her junior year she was excited about writing!
Anni was happy for Mrs. Neill who was selected as teacher of the year, even though it meant her students had less class time with the award-winning, traveling teacher.
As if the Buhler teachers were participating in a track event, Mrs. Neill handed her inspired baton off to Mr. Kohls, creative writing instructor. He showed Anni the different ways to write.
“I like Mr. Kohls,” states Anni. “It’s his personality. Our personalities are similar. He’s more relaxed than some teachers; it’s more engaging. He gets everyone participating. In discussion he’s good at allowing us to voice our opinions. He accepts everyone’s opinion, right or wrong.”
“I used to be a really shy learner,” remarks Smith, “I became more outgoing in his class. Being in Mr. Kohls’ class changed my personality and perspective on teaching and writing. He became more of a friend than a teacher. If I hadn’t had Mr. Kohls last year, I wouldn’t have said yes to all these things.”
Anni was referring to these decisions:
- Self-publishing her book of poems, Lungs & Liver, at Lulu earlier this year when she was sixteen.
- Scheduling a book-signing at Bookends in Hutchinson, KS and giving a poetry reading.
- Reading her poetry on stage at a packed Metropolitan Coffee, http://www.metrocoffeehutch.com Hutchinson, as part of “A unique evening of poetry, music, and art.”
- Joining the Kansas Authors Club, District 6, as a student member.
- Participating in the youth panel of writers at the Kansas Authors Club, where she shared her motivation and passion for writing.
One of the rules of writing is to show and tell. It’s time to show some of Anni’s powerful poetry.
Here are three of Smith’s poems and drawings that are included in Lungs and Liver.
Oh, but my dear
This isn’t Neverland.
The sirens with sweet tongues
Are the girls you call friends,
The pretty boy called Peter Pan
Pounds over girls,
Hook is the man you call father,
The little lost boys
Have mischievous hands,
Tinker bell’s dust
Is $20 a line,
So don’t be dreaming of flying
When you should be dreaming of dying.
–Not a fairytale.
Girls hushedly speak of their
Old blood rusted blades
With scars that still scream aching words,
Standing in a steamed mirror
Writing haunting words
And water drips down
The mirror slowly cries for her.
i trail my fingers through your hair
Down to the side of your face,
Gently molding my hand to fit
Your sculpted face.
My fingers slide from your jaw
To your neck
Dancing their way down,
i gently graze my nails further
down to your shoulder.
You get goose bumps.
i retrieve my hand,
My fingertips still tingle
and burn from your skin.
Lungs & Liver, available for purchase at Bookends, 123 N Main, Hutchinson https://www.bookendshutch.com and at Lulu https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=annika+smith&type=
Until next time, happy writing and reading!
The Kansas Authors Club http://www.kansasauthors.org is a statewide organization that encourages and supports great writing. It’s divided into seven districts. In Hutchinson, Reno County, (part of District 6) we have monthly meetings at Hutchinson Community College. http://www.hutchcc.edu You’re invited. Questions? Contact Jim Potter, firstname.lastname@example.org