Haiku in the Streets Workshop Success!


Haikus in Hanover: Kids hit the streets at poem-writing workshop

It’s important to expose children to poetry at an early age, said poet laureate

By Lauren Linhard


@linhardreports on Twitter


Zakiya Alston gets help counting haiku syllables from her mom, Christine Miller, on July 14.

Zakiya Alston gets help counting haiku syllables from her mom, Christine Miller, on July 14. (Clare Becker – The Evening Sun)

Poet Laureate JoAnne Diodato bowed to the children attending the Haiku in the Streets workshop at Guthrie Memorial Library, asking “Now, who knows how to say hello in Japanese?”

The seven participants repeated “konnichiwa” to each other as they began the July 14 workshop on haiku poetry and the culture from which it originated.

Some of the students were as young as second grade, Diodato said, and the earlier you introduce children to poetry, the more likely they are to enjoy it as they grow up.

“Haikus are a more approachable form because it’s short and involves topics kids already have experience writing about,” Diodato said, adding that a haiku is a three-lined poem with a five-seven-five syllable pattern that communicates an emotion or experience related to nature.

A participant looks at the Japanese symbols for the seasons during the Haiku in the Street class taught by JoAnne Diodato on July 14.

A participant looks at the Japanese symbols for the seasons during the Haiku in the Street class taught by JoAnne Diodato on July 14. (Clare Becker – The Evening Sun)

“Making poetry fun shows them it’s not just something stuffy to learn about in school.”

It may sound easy, but expressing a thought in 17 syllables is pretty tough, Diodato said as she watched the kids help each other spell words and count syllables.

Once the poems were completed, group members went outside to decorate the library’s sidewalk with colorful chalk renditions of their work.

Eight-year-old Bella Crotty, who attended the workshop with her sister, said even though she doesn’t normally like poetry, the lesson was fun because she got to write her poem outside with chalk. Each line of her haiku, which was written about her favorite summer shoes, was in a different neon color and decorated with hearts.

Logan Reed was also excited to share his work with library-goers, commenting on how nice the sidewalk looks now with the group’s decorations. It gives people something to enjoy on their way to check out books, the seven-year-old said as he chalked out his haiku about reading.


A Song for the Faeries

I wrote this song to celebrate the incredible experience of the Fairie Festival—enjoy!

Spoutwood Faerie Song

Come out, sweet Faeries, come out to play,

To celebrate Spring and the month of May.

The Green Man proclaimed a Festival day

For frolic and fun, both Mortals and Fae.


We’ll gather the Tribes from far and near:

Woodland and River will surely appear,

Mountain and Meadow, their air so clear

Bid welcome to Nature’s royalty dear.


Flitting and feasting and bubbles for some.

The Green Men protect and bless as they roam.

Fiddle and harp and pipes and drum

Delight King and Queen and all those who come.


The Bards will tell tales and stories of old:

Courage, adventure, and journeys unfold,

Copper bells gleaming and fortunes foretold

As Beltaine fires flame and turn all to gold.


“Kubiando” will echo all through the glade,

Music and dancing and wings arrayed,

Embers and Magick to light our way.

So come out, dear Faeries, come out and play!

© JD

Hanover Poet Laureate

I am incredibly excited to be named as the new Poet Laureate for Hanover, PA.  What an opportunity!  I will be able to share my poetry with the community in so many new ways!  I can hardly wait to begin my tenure, sharing not only through this blog, but through a variety of public appearances and workshops.  A copy of the press release and my acceptance speech appear below:

HANOVER, PA:  JoAnne Diodato will be appointed as the new Poet Laureate for the Hanover, PA area at the regular Hanover Borough Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hanover Municipal building.  The Poet Laureate position was established to promote, encourage, and seek ways to share poetry with the citizens of the Hanover area.

The Poet Laureate is charged with specific duties, including:
Penning poems to commemorate public events and community traditions
Encouraging and educating young people to produce poetry,
Rhetorical recitations before public gatherings as required, and
Encouraging community enthusiasm for poetry.

Ms. Diodato brings to the position her unique combination of skills and background, with degrees in both Nuclear Engineering and Education, as well as several technical publications, to her credit.  One of the first members of Hanover Poets, she has garnered various poetry awards, and her poems have been featured in a number of anthologies.  She participates in regional poetry readings, critiques, and juried shows, and she has appeared in “Culture and Main” on WRCT-TV.  Her work blends whimsicality with science and everyday observations to give voice to a rational yet touching view of the world around us.

Ms. Diodato hosts the Hanover Young Adult Writers Group at the Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover. She is active in community choral and theatre groups, and she also performs as a festival musician/vocalist.


I would like to say thank you to the former Poets Laureate and to the Poet Laureate Selection Committee for choosing me for this honor. I would also like to thank Mayor Adams and the Hanover Borough Council for supporting the establishment and continuation of the Hanover Poet Laureate position.

This is my goal:  to gather poetry from the people of the community, to provide a forum for their voices as well as mine. The skills of writing poetry are part mechanics and part art, and they are skills that can be learned and honed like any craft. To this end I am pleased to announce that, as my first endeavor, and in celebration of National Poetry Month this April, The Teen Advisory Group at the Guthrie Memorial Library – Hanover’s Public Library and I are organizing a Teen Poetry Contest for students in the Hanover area.  I hope that this activity, and many more, will help make poetry a dialogue and shared experience for us all.

In today’s world, we sometimes forget that poetry is a form of communication, and as such it demands a dialogue, a two-way street, in order to mean anything. It can’t just be written for people and read to people, it must come from the people themselves.  This is what I hope to achieve during my two-year tenure.