Surrender 50: Coffeehouse Poetry Readings

What a treat today, to be a guest in grandson Jonathan’s 4th grade classroom during the coffeehouse poetry reading. I joined my son-in-law Josh, and Jonathan’s Nana in the room, along with other parents and grandparents. 


I was quite impressed! Miss Tims is an exceptional teacher, in my opinion, to create these monthly events. The theme for February focused on Black History Month, with an additional emphasis on poetry and Jazz. The kids are given a great deal of creative freedom, which allows them to decide what poetry to read or how to interpret and perform a skit. 

As Josh and Debi and I took our seats at a festive table, I noticed that even the snacks were connected to the theme and the program for the day. We had Oreos representing 45 records, Corn Bugles for Jazz trumpets, and bubble gum for Bubble Gum Skat, among other snacks. 


The kids warmed up the crowd with several group performances, including “Charlie Parker Plays Bebop”, “Cool Daddy Rat”, and “Bubble Gum Skat”. I appreciated their entertaining performances and the educational moments that accompanied them. We learned who Charlie Parker was, and watched a short video clip of Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye performing skat together during “When the Saints Go Marching In.” 

As we sipped juice and munched on snacks, each child in Miss Tims class perched on the wooden stool at the front of the room and shared the reading he or she had selected. There was a wide variety of essays and poetry from writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker and Rudyard Kipling. Jonathan shared an essay about a sculpture of Jack Johnson, created by artist William Edmondson. Johnson was the first African American heavyweight boxing champion. The kids also shared briefly about historical greats such as Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Duke Ellington. After each reading, the audience responded in true coffeehouse style…by snapping our fingers. 


What a great experience, for the kids and for their proud family members. None of the children seemed nervous about performing in front of an audience, individually or as a group. What a gift to them, from their wonderful teacher, to have these opportunities to express their creativity and gain public speaking skills. I am looking forward to next month’s coffeehouse event!