Lakewood Ranch High students who are versed in poetry meet each week to share their writings.
Jenna Greenfield was tired of writing poems alone in her bedroom that only she would read.
Posting the creative writing pieces on blogging or social media sites, such as Tumblr, was unlikely to reach an audience outside of her East County home, either, she said.
She was her own critic of pieces she wrote because her school, Lakewood Ranch High, didn’t offer poetry classes for teenagers who like to write creatively.
And, although the school offers more than 35 extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs, no poetry-focused club existed.
So, in October, Greenfield and her friend and fellow poetry enthusiast, Dominick Reynoso, decided to change that. They brainstormed ideas for the school’s first Poetry Club, and three weeks ago, the duo hosted the group’s first meeting in the classroom of Teri Grimes, the school’s Advanced Placement (AP) Literature teacher.
“We wanted a comfortable space to share our writing,” Greenfield said. “There wasn’t any place for teenagers to go at our school to talk about poetry we’ve written. Poetry is such an important art form that we needed to have that type of space.”
Lakewood Ranch High’s Poetry Club meets at 2:30 p.m. Mondays, in Room 522.
The club’s eight members bring in poems they’ve written or the work of poets they like for discussions and critiques that Greenfield hopes will help the teenagers improve their writing skills.
Each week, the club will focus on a different member’s poem or poet.
The Ranch poets also hope to eventually host poetry slams on the school’s campus. “Slams” are venues for writers to read original poems for an audience.
Although the first meeting drew a crowd, the club’s turnout numbers have tapered off over the last two weeks.
Greenfield credits the school’s range of after-school activities and students’ other commitments to the decrease in the club’s turnout.
But, the members are OK with the small group the club has right now.
“If we have too many members, we won’t be able to spend as much time on each other’s poems,” Reynoso said. “Having fewer people is better for this type of club. But, we’d like to have 15 members.”
The group’s immediate goal is to attract fellow students who have a strong passion for creative writing, such as 11th grade student Domynic Newby.
Newby started writing poems in sixth-grade. He didn’t show his poems to his friends or family, he said.
“I just kept my writing to myself,” Newby said. “But, now I have a place to get feedback on what I write.”
The months of planning that starting the club required was worth the wait for Greenfield.
Instead of filling notebooks with poems she tucks away in her bedroom, the teenager can express herself in a “judgment-free zone” she hopes exceeds her time at the high school.
“Dominick and I were joking that this club was our lasting legacy,” Greenfield said, laughing. “But, we do want it to be an outlet for future students, that isn’t allows them to express themselves and improve their writing in a unique way.”
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].