Poetry as Healing and Connection
by Amy McKenzie on May 14, 2020

Kai Coggin is a poet, author, and teaching artist living in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, AR. 

She holds a B.A. in English, Poetry, and Creative Writing from Texas A&M University. 

Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Entropy, Sinister Wisdom, Assaracus, Calamus Journal, Lavender Review, The Rise Up Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review, Hoctok, Yes, Poetry and elsewhere. 

 Coggin is the author of three full-length collections, PERISCOPE HEART (Swimming with Elephants 2014), WINGSPAN (Golden Dragonfly Press 2016), and INCANDESCENT (Sibling Rivalry Press 2019), as well as a spoken word album called SILHOUETTE (2017). 

Her poetry has been nominated three times for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016 and 2018. Kai teaches an adult creative writing class called Words & Wine, and is also a Teaching Artist with the Arkansas Arts Council and Arkansas Learning Through the Arts, specializing in bringing poetry and creative writing to youth around the state. She is also the host of the longest running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country, Wednesday Night Poetry. 


Website https://www.kaicoggin.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/skailight8 

Twitter: @skailight LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kai-coggin-b8433121/ 

Instagram: @skailight Other: http://www.arkansasarts.org/aie-artists/kimberly-quot-kai-quot-coggin 


⌘ How Do You Teach Poetry? 


How do you teach poetry? 


You read it 

out loud 

to a room filled with children, 


as though a fire lives in your gut, 

as though magic lives in your heart, 

and you only want to put it in their cupped-together hands, 

you hold a magnifying glass 

up to meaning

dig around 

and show them all 

that 

lies 

beneath 

until they want to find it themselves, 

until they are the instigators of discovery, 

until this language becomes one with their small mouths, 

until they are excited in uncovering layers of intention 

and the puzzles of sounds. 


How do you teach poetry? 


You ask the children to read it out loud, 

just a line 

maybe two, 

         is that what the poet is really trying to say? 

        are you reading the back of a cereal box? 

        how do you think she is feeling there? 

        remember what a metaphor is? 

       onomatopoeia. 

and they try 

and they try 

and they finally break 

the cusp of fear into realization, 

the stage fright 

becomes ownership 

they invest in the feelings themselves, 

and the poem comes to life in their hearts. 


How do you teach poetry? 


Offer it as a safe room, 

a quiet place, 

a space without 

teachers 

parents 

adults

a place to learn their own wings, 

to fly around, 

bump into walls, 

soar, 

hear the sound of their own inner voices, 

have the freedom to truly express everything held inside, 

that pain is not something they have to hold onto, 

give it to poetry, 

tell them 

       poetry will keep your secrets, 

       poetry will not leave you, 

       poetry is yours, forever

children are much deeper 

than we give them credit for, 

their eyes still open to the higher worlds, 

their spirits still in tune with intuition 

and grace, 

and in this room of poetry, 

in this safe carved out space, 

lay a welcome mat 

that starts with a smile 

and 

open a door 

to 

everything 

all 

at 

once. 


Kai Coggin

Meet The Author

Amy McKenzie

Amy's lifetime involvement in the theater offered her many opportunities to study with some of the industry's greatest directors, performers and teachers. Her formal education includes the Masters Program at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and the Film Certificate Program as a Teaching Assistant at UCLA. Her career spans four decades and includes venues from off-Broadway to television, National Tours to Summer Stock. Over the years Miss McKenzie has worked professionally as a producer, director, founding artistic director, writer, actor, professor and coach. From an early age Amy pursued a passion for personal development, studying a multitude of disciplines from survival techniques to professional leadership training. The degree of her development is evident in her success as a published author, speaker, business owner and transformational coach. Loving all things natural, Amy has committed a great deal of time to the study of traditional and alternative healing. Miss McKenzie is a licensed Heart Math practitioner and holds certifications in various alternative healing modalities including Reiki, Energy Restructuring and Rebirthing. Her commitment to furthering the well-being of others is demonstrated by the number of lives she touches in her volunteer work. Amy is currently launching a spiritual and humanitarian non-profit organization committed to helping people find and fund their purpose in life. Making a difference, one person at a time, is Amy’s driving force. Amy’s most cherished accomplishment is having provided her daughter with the opportunities she needed to live a life she loves.