Maurya Simon, author of THE WILDERNESS: NEW & SELECTED POEMS, 1980-2016, discusses her work with Mt. Baldy students in article for the Press-Enterprise.

By Maurya Simon | Contributing Columnist

During National Poetry Month in April 2013, I taught poetry to students at Mt. Baldy School. It was a great experience, and, ultimately, their hard work and inspiration coalesced into a lovely chapbook that several students compiled as keepsakes for the class.

This past April and in May, I’m back at the school working with some eager middle school students, as well as with the first-, second-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Each class is markedly different: The youngest students are as energized as hummingbirds. They’re still learning how to comport themselves in class, but their excellent teacher, “Mr. D.,” keeps them attentive, even if they’re ready to break out into giggling fits.

Since Mr. D. ‘s reading them poems during regular classes, I’ve asked them to read and recite some favorite nursery rhymes: “Hickory Dickory Dock” and “Humpty Dumpty.” This activity’s been successful, although after I asked if they enjoyed reciting nursery rhymes, one boy vehemently shook his head “no,” while the others eagerly nodded “yes!” “Why not,”  I asked him, and he replied, “I just don’t like them.” I said, “That’s fine,” admiring his forthrightness.