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The Fox and the Verse: Unexpected magic brews in Zebulon

The aroma of freshly-brewed coffee dominates the tranquil Thursday afternoon routine at 1828 Coffee Company, Zebulon’s coziest coffee shop and recent winner of The Best of Georgia. But last week, an enchanting force stormed into the usual calm. A figure, a man entirely cloaked in a vibrant fox costume, trotted through the door clutching a worn satchel. This wasn’t your average literary prankster, though. The Poetry Fox carried a twinkle in his eye and a promise: poems spun from a single word offered by patrons. He unclasped his case, revealing a treasure – a vintage Royal typewriter, its chrome gleaming like a forgotten dream under the warm cafe lights.

Children of all ages couldn’t wait to experience the magic of poetry made possible by the L4GA Grant through Pike County Schools as part of the celebration of National Poetry Month. Chris Vitiello of Durham, North Carolina wrote nearly 60 poems in three hours before shedding his costume to reveal the person behind the mask, the making of a poet, and his personal inspirations.

Sherri Moody of Moody-Daniel funeral home stepped forward and offered her heartfelt word: tears. The Fox, settled at his table in front of the fireplace, paused only for a moment to collect his thoughts and feel the connection before nodding, “Alright. Let’s do this.”

With a practiced flick of his wrist, he threaded a sheet of paper and began his work. Within moments, a poem materialized, weaving a poignant ribbon of emotion. Tears welled in her eyes as The Poetry Fox read his gift of verse aloud to her.

She reflects, “The Poetry Fox was magical!  It was amazing how quickly he typed my poem on his vintage typewriter.  I gave him a word and got a sweet and thought-provoking poem in return.”
News in Zebulon travels faster than a stray cat on a hot summer night, and friends began calling friends to come get a poem. Janette Bradley of Pike County Schools arrived and asked if she could offer two words: unborn granddaughter. She, too, received a poem, a tapestry of emotions woven from the fabric of her words.

“The idea of giving a word to a “fox” and watching him write a poem from that word sounded intriguing. I’m not sure what I expected … maybe just to be amazed that someone could do that and to have something fun and cute that I could keep as a memory of the moment.  I certainly did not expect to have my heartstrings tugged so tightly that it made me cry, but that’s exactly what happened.  The kind of beauty that came from his heart and mind, through a typewriter and onto a piece of paper, can only be described as a true gift, and I am thankful that he shared that gift with me and Pike County,” Bradley reflects.

Clayton Moon, a local poet and teacher, offered his nickname, MoonDog, and explains, “The Poetry Fox brought writing to life. I was delighted to see so many kids enjoying the talents of The Poetry Fox.. Dr. Johnson, Dr. Dunnahoo, and Writing Wild are inspiring the youth of Pike County by offering engaging opportunities such as The Poetry Fox and other literacy events. In an age of Artificial Intelligence, I was amazed at the organic talent of the fox on an antique typewriter!”

Faith Hendrix of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce offered her new granddaughter’s first name – Piper. She, too, noticed the many children who were amazed by The Poetry Fox. “Watching The Poetry Fox type up an amazing poem out of one word was incredible! My word was my new granddaughter’s name, and I can’t wait to share her poem with her when she is older. But my favorite part of the experience was watching all the little ones be mesmerized by the experience. I’m sure that they will remember that moment for a very long time, and my hope is that this event built an appreciation and love for poetry that will remain with them throughout their lives.”

“It was incredible to see how the Poetry Fox created poems so quickly! I loved the poem he wrote about the library. It was amazing!” Mary Carter, Williamson LEAF’s new librarian, offered the word library and found a poem that she could live in forever.

Local pilot Andrew Johnson gave The Fox the word sky for his poem. “What a unique experience getting a poem from a Fox – how often does that happen? This Poetry Fox is very talented, especially with such no-margin-for-typos on a typewriter.”

Pike County experienced poetry’s undeniable magic in the way a fox unlocked the poetry hidden in the everyday lives of its residents. Perhaps, within each of us lies a verse waiting to be written, a story yearning to be told. Maybe all it takes is a nudge, a whimsical fox, and the courage to offer a single, heartfelt word. Let’s see where this fox tale leads us. Let’s discover the poems we hold within.

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