Milford's poet laureate helps kick off youth writing club

Danielle Valenzano, children’s library assistant at the Milford Public Library, will get a little help with her upcoming writing club from the city’s poet laureate, Mick Theebs.

The program for creative writers ages 9 to 13 will kick off Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Milford Public Library, and will take place the last Wednesday of each month.

Valenzano, quick to spot a trend or a new opportunity to involve children in reading, like starting an American Doll loan program and tapping into the Pokémon Go craze, said it just made sense that if Milford has a poet laureate, she might as well try to take advantage of his expertise.

“I’ve successfully run the club for over a year now, but we took a few months off due to low attendance and I felt we needed a slight revamp,” Valenzano said.

Theebs was named Milford’s first poet laureate last year, and has already written several poems for city events.

The poet laureate’s duties include presenting original poems at three or more city events during the year and acting as a resource for the Milford Public Library and Milford Arts Council’s poetry and literary activities.

When named poet laureate, Theebs was tasked with “undertaking projects throughout the city of Milford that will make poetry more available and accessible to people in their everyday lives” and “contributing to the creation of a poetic identity for Milford.”

Theebs plans to attend the first writing club meeting and lead some writing exercises, and then drop in now and then to work with the young writers.

The writing club initially drew about 30 young writers to the library when it started in 2015. The young writers often warmed up with writing prompts and tandem story writing, where one person starts a story and others add to it and develop the story. They did Mad Libs and other activities to spark their creativity.

Those ideas will likely be repeated when the club starts meeting again, and since the poet laureate is an artist as well as a writer, there are some ideas for incorporating drawing and writing this time around.

A 2013 graduate of Northeastern University, Theebs holds a degree in English. He started writing when he attended Jonathan Law High School. His work has been published in online literary magazines and e-journals, and he’s published many of his own poems on his own website, which is called Also That.

Theebs also runs a writing group for adults called “The Written Word,” which meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Firehouse Art Gallery, and he is interested in starting a writing group for teenagers.

“There’s also a lot of stuff that the Fine Arts Council and the library have planned for April, which is National Poetry Month, that I’ll be helping out with,” Theebs said. “I would also love to put together a writers retreat of some kind, but as of right now that idea is just a glimmer in my eye.”

The writing club at the children’s library is free, but interested writers should call 203-783-3312 to register.