The Poet in the Schoolhouse

poetryclubWhen you think of poets you think of Edgar Allan Poe or Ernest Hemingway. You wouldn’t think a great young poet would be sitting in a high school teaching teenagers about poetry but he is. Quentin Russell is the Artist in Residence for our school this semester. He runs the Poetry Club which is after school Wednesday and Friday above the Media Center.

What got him into poetry you ask? Music–because what more is a song than poetry being sung? Russell says, “I would write like some people would doodle,” but he didn’t really like poetry at first but when he went to college and took a poetry class he realized that he didn’t know much about it and he grew to love it. He loves being an artist in residence and he says he feels great to do free creative work.

Russell also was a teacher up in East Walnut Hill in Cincinnati at Clark Montessori. Russell says “I like when teachers who personally do what they teach and believe in what they are teaching.” The reason he’s teaching teens is because he sees them as “impressionable and energetic and not as much as a stick-in-the mud as many adults can be.”

Russell received the Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Award. He feels very prideful for winning the award and it makes him drive himself to be his best because the other winners of the award are really famous. You might be thinking why would a guy like this be sitting in our little midwestern school? Well, he used to student teach here and he wants to give back.

Russell says, “This is becoming way too common, but my best advice is to not listen to advice, but at the same time listen to lots of advice so you can find what works best for you.” Russell notes that most writer easily develop their own writing style and sometimes listening to advice can change that writing style for the worse, not the better.

Noah E., a ninth grader in poetry club, says that he likes it that poetry club is a good, quiet place to do homework. Noah also says it would be cool if some other kids came because sometimes it gets really quiet. Neko, another freshman in Poetry Club and a former student of Russell’s says: “He was probably the best teacher because he was more relatable than our older teachers and that he wasn’t obsessed with getting homework done immediately.” She also says that Russell used to dance and do Parkour.

If the artist in residence in our school is this cool you might as well go give Poetry Club a shot, even if you’re not a poet at least you could get some homework done.

Watch Quentin read his poem “Folding” here: