Ecker Hill student poet’s vision of spring earns prestigious honor
When Bodi Marzka was 2 years old, he’d sit on a neighbor’s lap, urging her to let him read his favorite book aloud. The first time it happened, the neighbor appeared impressed that such a young child was reciting the words with such ease.
In truth, though, he did not really know how to read the Thomas the Tank Engine story — he had memorized the words. It was the first indication, it turned out, of Marzka’s burgeoning passion for language.
"He’s always been a sponge, loving communication and words and reading," said Dawn Pencil, his mother. "It’s coming out now in art, so that’s kind of neat."
Marzka’s talent for words has never been more apparent. A sixth-grader at Ecker Hill Middle School, he recently was one of 11 poets — comprising all ages — selected to have a poem displayed at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City as part of the garden’s celebration of National Poetry Month. Visitors to the garden will be able to read Marzka’s poem, as well as use an app to listen to a recording of him reciting it.
"I like expressing my feelings through words," he said. "So if I’m down or something, I can write about it just to get the emotions out. If I’m happy, I write about it. If I think something is beautiful, I write about it. All of these types of feelings, I just express through poetry."
Teacher Deborah Dekoff, who had learned of Markza’s interest in poetry in class, first suggested to Pencil that he submit an entry to the contest. But Marzka had no idea when he sat down to write it that it would be one of the few chosen for display. When he found out he had penned a winner, it took a moment to sink in.
"At first, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’" he said. "And then I thought about it and I was like, ‘Oh, wait — that’s really cool!’"
The theme of the contest was spring, and Marzka’s poem, titled "Spring’s Beauty," reflects what he enjoys about the season. The poem paints a picture of nature awakening and filling people with hope.
"I always thought spring was really cool because of all the birds coming, and all the animals coming out of hibernation and all of that stuff — it’s starting new life, with all the flowers coming out," he said. "So I just really wanted to express what spring means to me. It might not be spring to other people, but this is what it is to me. That’s basically why I did it."
Pencil knew Marzka was a talented young poet but was blown away that he was one of the winners of the contest.
"It’s cool because he’s kind of a well-rounded kid," she said. "He’s on the Park City Ski Team, so he’s very athletic. And it’s kind of neat to see this artistic side of him come out, too. It’s fun to watch."
For his part, Marzka plans to continue writing, honing the craft as he gets older and more adept with language. He bubbles with enthusiasm when talking about it.
"I know when I get in older grades," he said, "I’m going to have a better vocabulary and better grammar, so I can express more stuff."
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A district spokesperson said six students were removed from an area in the school as police conducted a search.