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Artist of the Month - March 2004

Moab Child-Poet Published in National Journal
by Carrie Switzer
poems by Chloe Verchick

Last February, then eight-year-old Chloe Verchick shocked and amazed a full house at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center’s 5th anniversary celebration and Variety Show with original poetry written and delivered with a style becoming a rising performance poet three times her age. Since then Chloe’s writing has become more seasoned, encouraged by adult writers and mentors in the community. She herself acknowledges this still very personal, albeit publishable, gift.

“It just comes to me, really fast,” Chloe says with animated body language. “I have to grab something quick and write it down. I love to write.” With eyes closed Chloe’s vocabulary betrays her age.

“… And your only determination goes stale.”

Her ability to verbalize depth of feeling would amaze caretakers of the average third grader.

“… Mind blurry, heart confused,
Can’t think. … ‘Am I dead?’ you think? It was a dream.”

Chloe’s art is language, and like many artists, she said she uses it most “when I get mad or just when I feel like it.” She’s always been an above average reader, and remembers writing when she was seven years old. Now, at nine, she anticipates being published in a National anthology, and has been invited to receive an award at the annual poetry conference held in Orlando, Florida this spring. Her poem, “As I Can Only Remember,” was one of 1,800 entries; hers is one of 50 that will be recorded on a compact disc to be released later this year.
Chloe said her love of reading, for enjoyment sake, began like many second graders’ with The Boxcar Children series. She remembers reading "Wrinkle in Time", and in second grade tested at a fifth grade reading level.
While reading comprehension may explain Chloe’s propensity for language, the rules of grammar take a backseat to an unwritten intuition Chloe has for expressing ideas, emotions and stories through poetry. She said most of her poems tell a story, and “As I Can Only Remember” is one of her favorites.

As I Can Only Remember
A forgotten wind blows,
Through my body drained.
I can only remember
The soldier, Arabian wizard,
And imaginary friends.
Bad light shining
Through a cracked window.
I believe it was just a big book
My mother read to me,
Or a fairy tale,
As I swing through the trees
Of knowing this dream
A fain memory of friends,
A spirit maybe.
The letters and digits
Run through my mind.
As I can only remember
It was a dream.
Chloe has lived in Moab all of her life, and loves skating, basketball, soccer and gymnastics. She has a keen interest in science, and wants to be a marine biologist. Chloe said she sees her writing as a tool for self-expression, self-understanding and a way to get through growing up. She likes to play with words on the computer, experimenting with color and form. She likes to take her rough drafts and rewrite them with Chinese ink, and then type them. She talks of writing as a craft, but not one that she plans to do for a living.

“I have little books I keep my poems in, but when I’m writing it comes so surprisingly, I feel so good, it’s like, ‘Oh, I want to write!’ I have to rewrite them into the books later,” she said.

Founder of Moab Poets and Writers Julie Fox invited Chloe to present her work at a monthly reading, which she has done a couple of times. Julie bought her a journal and a pen to encourage her. The staff at Moab Academy, where Chloe now goes to school, also offers opportunities for Chloe to write and submit her work for publication.

Chloe’s mother Tracy, a local watercolor artist, submitted “As I Can Only Remember” without revealing her daughter’s age, so she was competing with adults, as far as she knows. If Chloe doesn’t make it to Orlando for the awards ceremony, her poem will be read aloud by a conference member. Ironically, one of Tracy’s art pieces was accepted in a show at Louisiana State University during the same month as Chloe’s conference. For both of them, their art could lead them on a mother-daughter road trip to the south.

“Chloe took the initiative and did her own thing with that first reading at the MARC,” Tracy said. “I’m super-excited. I have artist friends throughout the community who have a high regard for Chloe’s writing. The hard thing for her is that it is still so personal, and it’s hard to share it widely.”

At nine years old, who knows what role writing will play in Chloe’s life, though there is no doubt the recognition she has already received will be formative in some way. For now, Chloe shares a few of her poems with her community, and one with the nation. And she has won a few prizes along the way.

Think, know
Knowledge is life,
If knowledge leaves you
Standing in mid-air,
Not thinking.
You can’t move.
Just think, if it left.
You, in yourself, will be still,
Thinking, knowing
If knowledge left
The world will be an
Unthinkable neverland.
Thoughts in mid-air, life left.
Everything can’t think.
The winds stops blowing, the planets stop,
The asteroids float in mid-air.
No-one stirs.
One thing moves.
Its great power warms us.
We are more alive, more than ever.
It is inspirations, love, hate,
It is energy.

Mind blurry, heart confused,
Can’t think. Someone, somewhere,
Controlling you. Then you freeze.
“Am I dead?” you think,
You wake up. It was a dream.

Know love, hate
The fire is rising from
The top of the spirit.
Your body is relaxing
And your only determination goes stale.
Did I faint?
Did I die?
Your body lifts off the ground.
Then suddenly,
You fall endless.

If life stopped
What is life?
Can you stop it?
If you could, then think,
How would it be?
Time will be stale
And love, and hate, can
Take place in life.
Six years, two days,
Time is still
And no one can resume it.
Can’t move
Everything quiet.
Leaves hover in air
And moving too fast to think.
Hope is fatal. No sound.
If life stopped.
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