Marysville Library slams out the poetry

MARYSVILLE — When Jessica Jones’ seventh-grade teacher at Marysville Junior High School last year asked her and other students to write essays and stories, she just couldn’t put the thoughts racing through her mind into words. Then came the poetry-writing assignment.

"It all sort of clicked," she said. "I couldn’t stop writing. Poetry was a way for me to get all these ideas out."

Jones was one of seven young people who read poems at the Marysville Public Library’s first "poetry slam." The reading, which organizers hope to make an annual event, was in celebration of the American Library Association’s Teen Read Week, which this year had a theme of "Slammin’ @ Your Library." The ages of participants in the Marysville slam ranged from 12 to 23.

"I think this is an opportunity to give voice to people who often don’t get to have a voice," said Christa Werle, assistant managing librarian and teen contact at the library. "And it encourages the reading of a genre that hasn’t been traditionally popular among teens."

"Ghost," a poem by Michelle Hines, 23, of Tulalip won first place in the competition, which was judged by five people, including a poet from Arlington. Second place was a tie between "Rainy Day" by Jason Smith, 18, a senior at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, and "Day and Night," by Sarah Doak, 17, also a senior at the high school.

Hines said "Ghost" recounts a nightmare that ends when she sees her name on a tombstone surrounded by loved ones.

"I couldn’t go back to sleep until I wrote this," she said.

Hines said poetry has a cathartic effect.

"It’s a way to vent anger, happiness, sadness, so I don’t explode," she said.

Kristina Thomas, 13, who attends Marysville Middle School, said she has been writing poetry since she was 6 years old.

"I wrote my first poem when my mom got really sick," she said. "Every time she gets sick, I write a poem about what’s happening, what she’s going through."

Kristina also wrote a poem after her grandmother died.

"After I write a poem, I don’t have to think about things like that as much," she said.

JoAnn DeLazzari, the Arlington poet and novelist who helped judge the competition, told the entrants that their poems "are a composite of what we’re all about."

"I am terribly impressed by the outpouring and sharing you do through your work," she said between readings. "It takes a lot of courage to put your feelings out there."

Reporter David Olson: 425-339-3452 or

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