November 19, 2009
By Sara Giboney
WORLD-HERALD NEWS SERVICE
KEARNEY, Neb. They sipped "lattes" in the candlelit cafe as they
listened to the words of Jack Kerouac.
Only the hippest kids, dressed in dark clothing and berets, made the scene.
The crowd of hipsters snapped their fingers to show they dug the reading.
"That was crazy, man," Jennifer Szymanski said. "I just want to thank
all you cool cats and hip chicks for coming out today."
Although the dark "cafe" actually was the library, the lattes were
actually hot chocolate with marshmallows and the candles were
battery-operated, the vibe of the beat culture could still be felt
this week at Horizon Middle School's Beatnik Cafe.
The Beatnik Cafe was organized by Szymanski, an eighth-grade teacher at HMS.
"We wanted to do something that was different and novel and cool,"
she said, "to do something the kids would enjoy."
Every year, the school organizes events to promote literacy. This
year's events all focus on poetry.
The Beatnik Cafe was organized to give students an opportunity to
hear and perform poetry.
The beat generation refers to nonconformists in the late 1950s and
early 1960s. Beat writers of the time include Kerouac, best known for
"On the Road," Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.
Dressed in their best hipster attire, students arrived at school at
7:45 a.m. for the poetry reading. They ate breakfast pastries and
sipped their hot cocoa as Syzmanski introduced the poetry readers.
"Clapping is for squares," Szymanski said to the students when they
arrived. "We're not squares. We're beats, and we snap."
Other literary events scheduled this year include a visual poetry
contest, electronic performance poetry, a Lightning Thief party to
celebrate the opening of the "Lightning Thief" movie and a slam