Bonnie’s Band of Bards at Northeast Community College


Bonnie’s Band of Bards

Karly Liska, Reporter

At 7 in the evening on December 3, the Creating Poetry I and II classes read some of their poetry to an audience in the Northeast Community College library.  The students were really allowed to let loose with their words, whether it was talking about books or old classmates and the poems were varied widely, ranging from deer hunting to romantic relationships. Tana Buoy, Celine Eggerling, Lucas Maggart, Courtney Schroer, Whitney Tyrrell, and Spencer Endorf make up Bonnie’s Band of Bards, which is headed by Bonnie Johnson-Bartee.

Bonnie Johnson-Bartee
Bonnie Johnson-Bartee and her Band of Bards at their end-of-the-semester poetry reading

When asked what it takes to get students interested in poetry, Bartee said that young kids are interested in poetry at first but it becomes “uncool” in Jr. High and High School. Students at that age are told that they are doing it wrong and that they don’t understand what the poem is about. Teachers need to level the playing field and both teachers and students need to understand that they aren’t going to like every poem. Students need to realize that they will like something out there. They also need to be reminded that poems don’t have to rhyme and it can be what they want it to be. “Then it becomes okay again,” said Johnson-Bartee.

Courtney Schroer
Courtney Schroer

A challenge in writing poetry, Bartee said, is that people attempting to write poems usually have a hard time using strong words. They need to learn to use strong imagery so the poem has enough sensory information so that the reader can relate to it. The biggest challenge in writing a poem is making time, she said. “If you want it bad enough, you can make the time.” Prompts help when you are stuck and there are books out there that provide them.

Bartee also said that strong imagery makes a good poem. Personal preference also factors into whether someone likes the poem or not. “What’s good for someone, doesn’t work for someone else.” Each poet brings their own experiences into their poems and they put themselves out there for people to judge. Sometimes readers connect with the poet while other people will just not understand.

Bartee gave some advice for people writing poetry. When writing a poem, you have to decide if the poem is for yourself or for an audience.   “Is the poet prepared to share? Most poets write for expression or release and sharing is secondary.”

Lucas Maggart
Lucas Maggart