BROOKSVILLE — Students — mostly eighth-graders — took turns sitting on the stool, facing a microphone. Strings of white lights against black cloth provided a backdrop. The rest of the room's lighting was subdued. Electric candles illuminated the cloth-covered tables.
The look was unusual for the Parrott Middle School media center. For the two days of the Poppin' Poetry Café, though, it was perfect.
Students streamed in by class for two days. They were served beverages and listened to previously auditioned students, and some staff members, recite favorite poems or those they had written themselves.
Media specialist Liz Marion coordinates the annual event. She said the cafe is a way for students to learn to speak in front of others.
"I do it," she said, "because of the power of words."
Seventh-grader Lizelle Williams, 13, was one of the performers.
"I wrote my own poems," he said. "Poetry really appeals to me. I like it. My opinion is, it's good for people. It's calming. Very nice."
Eighth-grader Cierra Adkinson, 13, another performer, wasn't sure if her writing was good enough, but said, "Everyone in my class believed I was a good writer." Now she believes it "a little. Some of them I have faith in."
Eighth-grader Chancie Haigler, 13, auditioned with encouragement from her family. She said poetry "helps us express our emotions."