Poet Jason Koo, author of “Man on Extremely Small Island,” visited Stuyvesant on Thursday, November 10, to discuss poetry with students. English teacher Emily Moore’s Poetry class, as well as other students, attended the event, which was held in the library during 10th period.
At the beginning of the visit, Koo read a selection of his poetry out loud. The selection included “A Natural History of My Name,” “Swearing by Effingham,” “Struck from the float forever held in solution,” and “Kissing you.” Afterwards, students had the opportunity to ask Koo questions about his poetry and the writing process, and to buy an autographed version of his only book, “Man on an Extremely Small Island,” published in 2009.
“He was very funny and charismatic, and his poems are really inspiring,” junior Helen Ko said. “The expression and passion he used when reading the poems out loud helped me to understand the true meaning of the poems better,” sophomore Julie Zhu said.
Moore, who had originally arranged the event with Koo, first met him at the Brooklyn Flea, an outdoor street fair, some years ago through a friend of a friend. A little while after that, she began to teach and discuss some of Koo’s poems in her class. Koo also visited Ms. Moore’s Poetry class last year. Moore believes that Koo’s visits positively impact her class. “For my class, there are two benefits. One, I think the idea of a living writer is such a game changer for students. So often with literature, you read it, and then the book is closed at the end, and I think the idea that there is a writer that continues to write is very enlightening for them,” Moore said.
Moore also believes that having the chance to meet “young, cool, and wonderful” poets is encouraging for students. “It’s easier for the average Stuyvesant student to imagine themselves to be growing up like Jason Koo than Shakespeare,” Moore said.
Koo’s interest in becoming a professional poet, however, first arose when he was attending college at the University of Missouri-Columbia. There, with the help of great teachers, he began to develop an intuitive understanding about poetry. Koo also believes that the loneliness that he felt while attending college has influenced his poetry. He is now awaiting the publication of his next collection of poems, titled “America’s Favorite Poem.” During the event, Koo advised aspiring poets to read a lot and write a lot, to help them develop their poetic skills. Furthermore, he encouraged them to be in poetry for the right reasons. “Make sure you want to write poetry because you want to better poetry, not because you want to be famous or to attract girls or boys or because you think it’s cool. The other reasons fall away after a while,” Koo said.