Hayden Entress stands in front of  Janice Lawrence 's "White Orchid" at the Circle 7 Gallery in downtown Steamboat Springs. Lawrence’s art inspired Entress's words as part of a special book project the gallery completed with the Emerald Mountain students.

Photo by John F. Russell

Hayden Entress stands in front of Janice Lawrence 's "White Orchid" at the Circle 7 Gallery in downtown Steamboat Springs. Lawrence’s art inspired Entress's words as part of a special book project the gallery completed with the Emerald Mountain students.

Emerald Mountain students merge poetry and art

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— Hayden Entress enjoys writing poetry.

But the eighth-grade Emerald Mountain School student admits that ambiguity of poetry can be tough.

When she sat in front of Janice Lawrence’s acrylic painting titled “White Orchid,” poetry wasn’t so obtuse.

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It came easy, and the words and descriptions flowed.

“I appreciated how (the painting) made me feel,” Entress said. “I felt like I was in the rain forest or a dark room surrounded by flowers. I could smell them. This makes it a lot more understandable.”

Middle school students from the Emerald Mountain School put together a book of poetry to coincide with art pieces at the Circle 7 Fine Art gallery. The poems, book and art will be on display during the First Friday Artwalk in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Emerald Mountain English teacher Kim Schulz wanted to look at poetry in a different way, and the idea for the project just started to grow.

Schulz started working on getting students to look at art and write poetry. The unit on poetry focused on concise, descriptive language and the effects of line breaks and stanzas. The technique, called ekphrastic poetry, requires people to look at another art medium and write a poem about it.

“It was anything that spoke to them,” Schulz said. “I would have them sit. Sometimes the poem may not come. I’d have them start writing what colors or what it made them feel.”

The project originally was meant for students to pick art and write poetry about it. But Denise Brown, who has art in Circle 7 and a child who attends Emerald Mountain, had other ideas.

She knew the gallery would want a book to show the work and decided to put books together of the artwork along with the poetry.

All told, 17 artists and 32 pieces of art were represented by 27 Emerald Mountain School middle-schoolers.

“We learned about poetry at the beginning of the year,” student Finn Dresen said. “We looked and saw the art and saw what we liked. Then we wrote about it.”

The students will be on hand Friday to discuss their work and sign copies of the book.

For most, it took two art forms and simplified them.

“They are all artists, too,” Schulz said. “We have a really strong art program at the school. They are artists, too, so they had an appreciation for other artists.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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