Helen Rosburg looked into the eyes of a group of East Aurora High School students Tuesday afternoon as she delivered her message about poetry and the power of words.
"I just want you to know how powerful poetry can be. How powerful the written word is," said Rosburg, a poet and a member of the well-known Wrigley family. "If you can write it and you can speak it, then you have double the power."
Rosburg spoke to five students who are preparing for a poetry contest by training with Triple Threat Mentoring, an Aurora based nonprofit where she volunteers.
"Have fun with language. Have fun with words. Make things up," Rosburg said. "Poetry can be anything you want it to be."
To help them get ready for the Louder Than A Bomb: Chicago Youth Poetry Festival in February, Rosburg read from her poetry collection "This is the Book of Arabesque." She also gave students two assignments: write a haiku about any topic and to write rap lyrics.
Frederick Van Wilson finished Rosburg's first assignment in mere seconds, writing a 17-syllable poem based on his latest longer work.
"Walk through the endless halls of pain where you see no sun, no happiness," said Wilson, a 15-year-old freshman, reading his haiku aloud to the group.
Rosburg took each student's name and gave them her e-mail address so she can critique the products of their assignments later. She told them the best way to get into writing is to practice every day and remember it is a form of communication.
"You're going to get huge amounts of energy from your audience if you communicate with them directly," Rosburg said.
Senior Yolanda Elizondo said she intends to take Rosburg's advice and apply it to her own writing and presentation of her poetry.
"It's inspiring. I learned a lot of things from her," Elizondo said. "The way she portrays herself is just overwhelming."
If the East Aurora High School students keep up their good writing, Rosburg said, then Medallion Press, the publishing company she leads as owner, president and CEO, may offer to publish an anthology of their poems.
"There's immense talent in our high schools, enormous," Rosburg said. "We just need to fertilize it and help it grow and harvest it."