When photographer Jason Gardner visited a New York City public school to photograph some of the students and their families this week, he ended up taking one picture he wasn't planning to — a shot of a poem, written by a first-grader, which has now gone viral.
More on Yahoo Shine: Chicago Poetry Phenom Takes the Stage
The poem, penned at an after-school program in honor of National Poetry Month, which takes place in April, quickly became a hit, especially among New Yorkers, who value their sometimes-rare personal space. But since Gardner took a picture of only the unsigned poem and not the student who wrote it, at this point, the world has no idea of the young author's identity. The poem reads:
We did the soft wind.
We danst slowly. We swrld
Aroned. We danst soft.
We lisin to the mozik.
We danst to the mozik.
We made personal space.
Although the poem doesn't seem complicated at first glance, there's a surprising depth in those simple words. And it comes with the endorsement of several high-profile writers and critics, including Michael Dumanis, a literature and poetry writing professor at Bennington College in Vermont.
More on Yahoo: Fun Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month With Kids
"I loved it!" Dumanis tells Yahoo Shine about the poem. "It captured the truth about personal space. The misspellings make it more primal and deliberate. At the end there's an epiphany about dancing and what that means."
And Dumanis isn't the only one with good things to say about the elementary student's work. After Gardner posted the photo of the poem to his Facebook page, NPR's radio show "Studio 360" shared it with listeners and called the poem its favorite poem of National Poetry Month. (The story has since become the most shared on NPR's website and has gotten more than 4,000 likes.) Meanwhile, a headline on Gawker.com blared "This Talented First Grader Just Wrote a Better Poem Than You Ever Could."
Though some poets and scholars don't like the idea of a National Poetry Month, worrying that it will dissuade people from being interested in poetry during the rest of the year, Dumanis disagrees with that idea. "Anything that draws attention to an art form is ultimately a good thing. Because of National Poetry Month, more people encounter [poetry], more people write it and find a role for it in their lives. It becomes a long-term pursuit."
Dumanis hopes that once the student is identified, he or she will find out how much positive praise the poem has received. He also hopes that the student will continue pursuing creative endeavors and continue to read, study, and write poetry. "This poem, to me, coming from a first-grader, has so much spark and originality," he says. "Anytime you put a word on the page, you are making a choice." And it's clear that, for this 6-year-old, it was the right one.