Lake Forest boy’s poem serves as inspiration
J.T. Kirages, 11, of Lake Forest recites his Canadian Pacific Holiday Train poem in Gurnee on Dec. 10. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
HOMETOWN: Lake Forest
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “I was nervous up until they handed me the microphone and I just started reciting it like I practiced it.”
LAKE FOREST — Eleven-year-old JT Kirages of Lake Forest overcame his nervousness and recited from memory the 12-stanza poem he wrote to commemorate the good works of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train that stopped in Gurnee on Dec. 10. Kirages read the poem on stage before a crowd estimated at well over 1,000 people who came to see the illuminated 14-car train as it wended its way through Midwest picking up donated food and monetary donations for those in need.
Q. Why did you first write the poem on the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train? A.
It was an assignment for Language Arts at Deer Path Middle School last year when I was in 5th grade. The assignment was to write a poem about the holidays. What immediately came to mind was the Holiday Train, because I’d seen it the weekend before. When I sat down to write, I thought, “Wait a minute. The train represents something bigger than the lights and the songs. It represents the people who don’t have enough to eat or don’t have enough money to get food.” I started getting sad…and suddenly realized what it was all about: It’s not just so everyone can have fun.
Q. Have you written poetry before?A.
I’d never written a poem in my life before this.
Q. What do you like best about the Holiday Train?A.
The most amazing thing is probably the emotion of lights as the train passes by. I first saw the train when I was about 6-years-old. We’ve seen it as it stops in Gurnee before, but last year we watched as it went through Lake Forest all lit up.
Q. How did your poem get selected as inspiration for the 2012 Midwest train?A.
My mom was really touched by my poem. She e-mailed it in a thank you to Canadian Pacific last January. About a month ago they called and asked if they could use it and they asked if I would read it at the Gurnee stop.
Q. What was your first reaction when you found out the railroad wanted to use your poem?A.
I was extremely happy. I couldn’t stop smiling. I really hope it helps the food banks. I hope more people will donate, thanks to my poem.
Q. Were you nervous reciting the poem live on stage?A.
It took a lot of practice to memorize it. I was nervous up until they handed me the microphone and I just started reciting it like I practiced it. It felt like it was just coming out of my mouth. I’m glad I did it.
Q. What do you hope your poem will accomplish?A.
I hope what I did helps the Holiday Train get even more donations for the food banks.
Q. Have you written any more poems?A.
Just one more for a class assignment.