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Arts at Ensworth
High School

Capstone Spotlight: Marianna Staff’s Poetry

Marianna Staff’s poetry Capstone on the theme of “Growing” proved to be a fitting topic for her as a young woman and artist. She presented a few selections from her project’s poetry anthology, including some older material from earlier in her Ensworth career, on Thursday, April 25.
Myra McLarey’s Poetry class served as the catalyst that led her to choose poetry as her Capstone, although she had previous experience as a poet. Her presentation began with a poem she wrote in Grade 6 at Ensworth for DeeDee Little’s English class.

“I decided then, after I received such positive feedback,” Marianna explains, “that I wanted to be a poet.” It was from her childhood that she pulled the greatest inspiration for her Capstone’s poetry anthology’s theme of “Growing.”

She counts Pablo Neruda, Rupi Kaur, and Langston Hughes as her favorite poets. Although they provided lots of inspiration, reading their poetry didn’t give her the necessary direction for her Capstone and poetry anthology.

After Ms. McLarey had to take leave from teaching due to illness, Staff was initially disappointed that she would have to be directed by English and theater teacher David Berry. His direction and tough love, however, helped her focus her theme and hone her craft through rigorous revision.

“It was absolute soul-crushing to have Mr. Berry pull apart my poems at the seams,” Marianna explained to the audience, “and watch as my favorite stanzas crumbled under his green pen.”

Staff soon realized that this forced humility was making her a better writer and artist. She also honed her creative skills in learning Adobe InDesign to lay out and work with a printing company to produce a printed version of the anthology. We invite you to view her complete presentation below.


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