A poem from the heart

Lynn McDonald is on a mission to help Syracuse youth appreciate the power of poetry

On Sunday, Feb. 10, as a volunteer for the Syracuse Poster Project, a local organization that brings together artists and poets to help create posters around the city, and with the help of La Casita Cultural Center, McDonald brought her passion for the written phrase by teaching kids how to write it themselves.

As McDonald waits for some of the youth from La Casita’s mentoring program for ESL students from the West Side, she can’t help but sneak a smile or two when thinking about the workshop she is going to teach. Most of the youth that will attend today either have learning or behavioral difficulties, so McDonald is hoping that even by their presence she can inspire them to appreciate the beauty of poetry and the verisimilitude it can provide.

“Just by showing up, I felt like I had an audience appreciating what I do,” McDonald said. “I wanted to share what other people have shared with me.”

Of the students that attended the workshop, two girls were from Nottingham High School and three boys from Fowler High School. All were of Puerto Rican descent and spoke English as a second language. Luz Encarnacion, who is president of the LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Council in Syracuse, and also works for La Casita through Syracuse University, brought the students out to show them that poetry is something they all can do too—even if it means coming out on a Sunday.

“They’re great kids,” says Encarnacion about the students. “It’s the first time they’re sitting down for a project like this and engaging, so it makes me happy.”

While some of the students needed the help of Encarnacion to translate some of the instruction McDonald was giving, they all seemed to enjoy the practice of learning to write a haiku—the lesson plan for the day. The theme? Love. Fitting since Valentine’s Day is around the corner.

“One of the girls really grasped it and tried so hard to write a good haiku,” McDonald said. She hopes that even though the workshop was short, the students will remember what they learned for years to come. “They could look back on this and think of it as a stepping stone for something positive,” McDonald added.

“It exposes them that there are many other things they could be doing,” says Encarnacion about the distractions these kids often face.

“I just wanted to do something for the community,” says McDonald. “It’s all about helping them.”





The Stand’s next scheduled workshop will offer a twist on the usual journalism workshop when we let readers go Behind the Scenes of The Stand. This free event is offered from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 2, at the South Side Communication Center located at 2331 S. Salina St.

Syracuse University reporting students will share how they develop their story ideas, and they’ll describe the process they follow to put together an article for the print issue. Community correspondents and The Stand board members will also be on hand to share an inside perspective on how this community newspaper is run.
This interactive workshop allows readers of the paper to ask questions of reporters and share their ideas for stories to run in future issues. This event is free and open to anyone interested in learning more about how stories get into the paper. Coffee and refreshments will be provided.

The Stand is a print and online South Side community newspaper written for and by South Side residents. As the voice of the South Side community of Syracuse, the paper aims to start a community conversation by inviting residents of the South Side to share their stories. The paper is the brainchild of the South Side Newspaper Project, a collaboration of the South Side Community Coalition, Syracuse University and a number of dedicated South Side community residents.

To learn more, contact The Stand’s Director Ashley Kang at Ashley@mysouthsidestand.com or call (315) 882-1054.