The poets of Peninsula High School will share their words at a special poetry night, hosted by the school’s literary magazine.
The fifth annual Poetry Night is Thursday (April 23). Student poets from The Phoenix, including the school’s Poetry Outloud competition winner Natalie Svinthe, will read self-penned poems.
The Phoenix is a once-a-year arts and literature magazine that includes all types of writing as well as art pieces like photography and block prints. It is put together by students at Peninsula.
“I think it’s just a great thing for our kids ... to really shine and show what they can do,” said Lynda Richards, an English teacher at Peninsula. Richards is a former academic advisor for The Phoenix.
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The night will feature a special guest, poet Derek Sheffield. A Gig Harbor High School graduate, Sheffield is now an English professor at Wenatchee Valley College. He released a book of poems, “Through the Second Skin,” in 2013.
Sheffield, 46, will be heading to Gig Harbor, and his two daughters, ages 9 and 7, will be in tow. He hopes to show them his old haunts, such as the house he grew up in and Kopachuck State Park.
Much of his poetry is influenced by the natural world, so his reading will sync up with Earth Day. For the last 10 years, Sheffield has been teaching an interdisciplinary class. He teams up with a biologist to teach a combination of ecology and creative writing.
Sheffield graduated from Gig Harbor in 1986. He says his love of the written word stems from his youth, when he always had his nose in a book. In high school, he said, Gig Harbor English teacher Pam Wise steered him into writing. A class with local poet Kevin Miller steered him toward poetry.
“There was like this Golden Age at Gig Harbor that I was fortunate to be a part of as a student,” Sheffield said.
At Peninsula, The Phoenix has been around for decades, including back when Richards herself was a student. She estimates the journal began in the late-1970s. She attributes its important role in the creative arts to its longevity.
“I think there’s always room for the arts,” Richards said. “I think it’s a great platform for the kids who have that creative bent.”
Richards is putting the word out about the event because she would love to see it draw more than just students. Her vision is someday it will be a draw for all appreciators of the arts.
The reading will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Milton Boyd Auditorium at Peninsula High School, 14105 Purdy Drive NW. Admission is free.