Tom Catalano was walking one day under a tall, tall tree. Up in that tree happened to be a cute little bird, and as Catalano walked under the branch where that bird was perched, it dropped “bird doo” right on his head, he said.
The published poet from Hollidaysburg told that story to a group of students at Port Matilda Elementary School, and as he explained the scenario, the students burst out in laughter.
“I was not very happy,” Catalano said. “But what do I do when I’m not happy? I write a poem.”
From that, he said he wrote a poem called, “Cute little birdy” for a book he published full of poems for children. Catalano was invited to the school on Jan. 18 to share child-friendly poems and help inspire students to read and write.
“It’s winter time, and I always try to find something new to break up the monotony, because you can’t just go outside in this kind of weather,” Principal Terri Kenny said. “The kids will start writing poems and having fun with it in class. One of the funny things a kid said to me was, “Hey, Mrs. K., you tricked us into learning!” And that’s a compliment.”
The Guest Poet program was split into three sessions that featured Catalano who read the poems he wrote to students in kindergarten through fifth-grade.
“I really like having him because the kids are engaged and he’s showing them that writing is for everyone and you don’t have to be the best writer in the world to try it and succeed,” Kenny said.
Catalano also donated some of his books to the school’s library and offered a discount on his work for students who wanted to purchase his books.