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Monarch's Asheboro Vocational Program Encourages Budding Poets

Poetry Collage for WS“A poem is nothing more than a rhythm. A poem comes from your heart. A poem is deep. A poem is true. A poem involves someone special like you.” - Mandy Forrester

This short poem, neatly written in a small pink notebook illustrates what the art of poetry means to Mandy Forrester. The budding poet wanted her friends at Asheboro’s Vocational Opportunities in the Community (VOC) to see how expressing your feelings through poetry can be healing, motivating and eye opening.

She believed a poetry slam, or reading, would also be a great way to showcase everyone’s poems. This past spring, she invited and encouraged everyone at VOC to participate. About 15 of her fellow VOC friends agreed, worked on their poems and ultimately shared what they wrote.

Typically, a poetry slam is defined as a competitive event in which poets perform and are judged by an audience. During VOC poetry readings, authors are encouraged, high-fived and congratulated after sharing their poems. There is no judging, just acceptance and applause.

“I put it together and I thought it went really well,” Forrester says of the first event. “I see poetry as a way of handling and getting through things.” Since then, many of them have continued to put pen to paper writing more poems.

Forrester, 41, wrote her first prose in 2014 after receiving inspiration from her sister, Susan, who enjoyed writing poems. Susan passed away three years ago but left an indelible mark on her sibling: “My sister inspired me because she wrote poetry all of her life. When I write poems, it’s like a little part of her is still with me.”

Her passion for poetry is contagious. Her friends, and even staff, proudly present their rhyming creations. “Writing poetry is very inspirational,” Forrester adds. “Poems can get you through a lot of things – happy moments, sad moments.”

Forrester is a confident poet and believes she has a talent. “I want people to know about my poetry,” she says proudly. “Poetry is a gift and a gift to many people. I have written poems for many people and I am really good at writing.”

The idea for a poem can come out of nowhere so Forrester is always carrying a small notebook. Her current notebook has many pages filled with poems in her neat, cursive handwriting. Some pages are illustrated with hearts and flowers.

Occasionally, even the best authors suffer from writer’s block. “Sometimes I have to feel it in order to write it,” Forrester admits.

Her poem titled, “Friendship,” hangs framed in the VOC hallway as a testament to how she best conveys her feelings. Through the poetry readings, Forrester accomplished what she set out to - inspire others.

During a second poetry reading held in late June, some friends sang their poem, some had help reciting their poem and some even wiped away tears while reading their poem. All were encouraged to share.

Forrester adds that as long as her friends keep writing she will continue to plan future poetry events.

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