MSD event, Fulton poet impart the power of poetry

Cody Avila, Missouri School for the Deaf student, recites his poem titled, “Prove Them Wrong,” Thursday inside the school’s library during an event to celebrate National Poetry Month, which was in April. Avila’s poem focused on an important life lesson he learned from his grandfather.

Cody Avila, Missouri School for the Deaf student, recites his poem titled, “Prove Them Wrong,” Thursday inside the school’s library during an event to celebrate National Poetry Month, which was in April. Avila’s poem focused on an important life lesson he learned from his grandfather. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Missouri School for the Deaf student Cody Avila took the floor Thursday inside the school’s library to read his original poem, “Prove Them Wrong,” which told the story of his grandfather and an important lesson he taught Avila.

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Poet Clarence Wolfshohl of Fulton talks about his poetry to students Thursday at the Missouri School for the Deaf library. Wolfshohl read several of his poems to three different classes in celebration of April’s National Poetry Month.

Although a day late, MSD celebrated April’s National Poetry Month. The event featured Clarence Wolfshohl, a poet from Fulton, who read his original works. Students also recited their own poetry.

In the Avila’s poem, he talks about how his grandfather, who is one of his biggest influences, told Avila to defy obstacles in life and “be great.”

Avila, 16, said he uses poetry as a way reflect on the experiences he’s had in his life so far. His topics range from darker concepts like bullying and depression to brighter ideas like his grandfather’s wise words. It’s a way for him to vent, he said, and write songs for his Springfield-based band “As Kings And Thieves.”

“(Poetry) felt like something I should do,” Avila said. “I needed something to express myself.”

Poetry entered Clarence Wolfshohl’s life when he was a third grader with a poem “Purple Cow” by Gelett Burgess, but he didn’t start taking the craft seriously until high school when he read from the greats like Robert Frost.

“I remember thinking, ‘I could do something like that?’” Wolfshohl said.

Wolfshohl, a former English teacher, is now the author of eight poetry books and guessed his written about 1,000 poems.

He read four of his poems, ranging in topics from his Uncle Dutch’s experience in World War II to a chupacabra’s makeover. Wolfshohl then gave his insight into poetry.

Wolfshohl said a poet needs to be familiar with various types of literary elements, like similes, metaphors, alliteration, etc. — similarly to how a craftsman needs to be knowledgeable of tools.

“A poet is an artist but also a craftsman,” Wolfshohl said.

Wolfshohl said he was honored that Shawna Isaac, MSD library aide, asked him to speak to the students. While schools have a tendency to hyperfocus on math and science, Wolfshohl said, it’s important not to forget about creative subjects.

“We forget poetry and music and art are the soul of us that really have created progress … mental and social progress that arts give us,” Wolfshohl said. “We’re floundering if we don’t have that.”

Prove Them Wrong

By Cody Avila

When I was young,

My grandfather would always preach to me,

And tell me that I’d always be great,

I’d always tell him that I didn’t believe him,

And that he was just being silly,

He would tell me,

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you how to live your life,

And don’t ever let anyone push you down.

Stand up straight,

Look the world in the eyes,

And don’t ever falter,

Because you will be great.”

I would always tell him that everyone thinks I’m a failure,

He would say,

“So, if they say that you’re a monkey,

Does that mean you are one?

Show them that you can do more,

Than they every thought possible.

Choose your own path,

Make your own luck.”

“And above all,

Stand up straight,

Look the world in the eyes,

And don’t ever falter,

Because you will prove them wrong,

You’re gonna go far, kid.”

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