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Edgemont Young Poet Lets His Imagination Fly

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Ian Gordon, 11, wrote a poem relaying the day his mom, Anne Gordon, invited him to go biking near the Tappan Zee Bridge. But this experience has never actually happened.

“I woke up one morning, And my mom said to me,‘Let's go biking on the east Tappan Zee.’Faster and faster,On the riverside,A car starts coming,And Mom shouts‘One side!’”

The poem, which won an honorable mention in 2010 at Greenburgh’s annual poetry contest, was one of the many Ian wrote during the two years he has been participating in the Kids Short Story Connection, a writing program sponsored by the Greenburgh Arts and Culture Committee.

“I like writing here because there are a lot of kids and you get to share your work after you write and people give suggestions,” said Ian, who lives in Edgemont and is a sixth grader at the Seely Place Elementary School.

Sarah Bracey White, Greenburgh arts and culture executive director and the program’s founder, said that having their works read in class pushes the kids to do their best.

“Every writer needs an audience,” she said, adding that the program’s objective is to create a sense of community that encourages kids to persist in the activity, more so than teaching them how to write.

Carolyn Thornlow, whose 15-year-old daughter Johanna Ramm is also in the program, said she believes in the power of putting together kids who share the same passion for writing.

“I think they inspire each other to grow and experiment,” said Thornlow, a Hastings resident.

Difficult as it may seem to have children willing to attend class on a Saturday, White said that is exactly what happens in the program—a boy once asked his parents to bring him back early from a camping trip to attend the Saturday program. Thornlow also recalled that when White wanted to cancel a class due to a snowstorm, Johanna suggested putting on her snowshoes to come to the Town Hall.

“This is her playground,” Thornlow said. 

Ian identified the freedom to choose his writing themes as the main difference between school and the program.

“In school, they tell you what to write about, and here you can write about whatever you want,” he said.

Brenda Connor-Bey, Greenburgh poet emeritus and one of the three teachers in the program, confirmed that she gives the students the maximum flexibility.

“Trust your imagination,” she tells them.

Ian seems to trust his—his mother said they have biked in many places, but never across the Tappan Zee Bridge.

“It’s not a real place in his mind,” she said. “I just think he likes the sound of the words.”

“My pedometer is broken,But I have a steady beat.The wheels go round and roundOh what a feat!Then at last,Oh at last,I get to the other side.Now back I go,Here comes another ride.”

Kids Short Story Connection is now in its ninth year and runs in the spring and fall, consisting of six sessions of two hours each, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Greenburgh Town Hall. It's open for kids from ages 9 to 17 and costs $100 for Greenburgh residents and $125 for outsiders.  

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