I had the great pleasure of introducing Frances Aldana the night she read her prize-winning poem at Books & Books. Thought I’d share with you what I said:
Frances Aldana is a talented artist, a gifted poet. She is the kind of kid who encourages the words of the students sitting next to her, who applauds her classmates’ courage and their clever stories, who offers to read the poem of a child who wants their words heard, but is too shy to stand up in front of everyone.
Frances understands the process of revision. Which is to say that by the end of our 40 minute poetry workshops, Frances was already pressing into my hands a paper with cross-outs and arrows directing the reader to new and better ways she had discovered to express her ideas. Which is to say that she already understands that hard work must follow initial inspiration.
Frances’ poems from our time together feature some of my favorite lines and characters. She finds humor and adventure just about everywhere she looks: in our circus poems, she wrote about a lion dancing the Macarena, and in our jet pack themed poems, she described a jet pack which possessed the special feature of taking her back in time to when her grandmother was alive. Which is to say that Frances, at her tender age, has already embraced the essence of poetry—of all art, really—speaking the truth of our hearts, giving our minds permission to imagine that anything is possible.
Each time, every single time that I went to Frances’ class, she found time to say Thank You. And that, too, is the mark of a fine poet because it means that she is paying attention, that she is aware of giving and receiving, that she knows what matters to her, and isn’t afraid to say so. I celebrate all of that, and so much more, about her.