Poetry is like a river carving a path through virgin earth - which is a line no self-respecting poet would ever write.
Part of the magic and seduction of the art form, though, is that anyone, if so moved, can and should write poetry.
Such is the spirit behind the Arts Cafe Mystic and its annual "Youth Will Be Served" presentation, taking place Friday in the Mystic Arts Center. Lisa Starr, the award-winning, outgoing poet laureate of Rhode Island, will headline an evening when seven area high school student poet laureates will also read.
Starr, who's published three poetry books including "Mad With Yellow," will read from a soon-to-be-published collection.
In coming up with a program that honors fresh talent, Arts Cafe Mystic Director Christie Max Williams says it was ideal to be able to book Starr as the headliner.
"Our 'Youth Will Be Served' is very cool, precisely because it celebrates young artists in a way that connects with all of our audience," Willams says. "The wonderful Lisa Starr is ideal because her poetry is hip, funny and emotionally strong, and because she is a brilliant teacher who represents a powerful model for the student poets."
In addition to her poetry, Starr's tenure as state poet laureate is notable for the establishment of a statewide poetry-pen-pal network between students and elders.
"Lisa was genuinely excited about heading up this program because connecting generations is part of her artistic mission," Williams says.
This year's high school poets laureate are: Melissa Close (Waterford High School); Catherine Lanyon (Fitch High School); Cristina Knowles (Norwich Free Academy); Joseph Rosen (Ledyard High School); Kimberly Armstrong (Stonington High School); Helena Sun (Montville High School); and Catherine Malcynsky (The Willams School).
Reflecting on the idea behind the program, Williams says, "Poetry seems to me an almost ideal form of artistic expression for young people - it's very private, very portable, and very cheap to do. All they need is a little time and pen and paper. And they can choose to keep a poem to themselves or share it with their world."
Over several years curating the "Youth Will Be Served" presentations, Williams believes more than ever that poetry is a therapeutic as well as a creative outlet.
"In reading poems by young poets, I'm struck by how poetry serves them with a way to wrestle with and articulate their emotions; they can write their feelings without having to deal with the world's judgment," he says.
The student poets laureate will get to read from their works before a musical set from singer-songwriter Victor Chiburis.
"Victor is a talented young singer-songwriter whose music and message cuts across generations," Williams says. "And, after we've honored the high school poets laureate, we present them to read for our audience. It makes for a festive and integrated evening of inspiring words and music."
Youth Will Be Served, 7 p.m. Friday, Mystic Arts Center, 9 Water St., Mystic; $10 door, students under 21 free; (860) 912-2444, theartscafemystic.org.