Transcending Language Through Poetry

Transcending Language Through Poetry

by Susan Neuhalfen

It’s hard to believe that less than four years ago Harpool 8th grader Fien Meuleman couldn’t speak a word of English.

Her family moved in 2014 from Belgium to Lantana. At that time, Fien was enrolled in 5th grade at E.P. Rayzor. Encouraged by her teacher, Mr. McLaughlin, she began reading and writing in her journal every week. Since then she has fallen in love with the English language and hasn’t stopped writing.

When she moved on to Harpool Middle School, she had another influential teacher, Mr. Young, for two years. That is when she started to write short stories, plays and poetry. She was even given an old typewriter by a nice lady on which to begin her work. She also began working in theater at Harpool and is part of the stand up crew and will also perform in an upcoming play.

Some of her poems even got published in “The Gazette van Detroit”, a Flemish newspaper in Dutch and English, targeting Flemish immigrants and their descendants living in the United States and Canada. Her proud mother, Katleen Speelman, couldn’t help but share some of her work with friends and on social media.

“Once in a while I would post one of her poems on my Facebook page and a lot of people reacted,” said Katleen who owns the European Academy of Bright Stars, teaching French, Dutch and European history in a room she has turned into a classroom in their Lantana home.

Fien’s poems also touched and inspired the Belgian artist Ann Vervoort. Ann started to paint watercolors to match Fien’s writing and the project “Within Reach” was born. Fien and Ann were asked to have an exhibition in the “De Loods” art gallery in Duffel, Belgium which will run until the end of March. They are featured on the “Start to Fame Wall”.

It is Fien’s dream to study literature at a top university. She is already raising money to pay for her college education by creating small booklets containing her poems along with Ann’s illustrations. They are $5. So, in addition to being a poet and writer, she is an entrepreneur. To get a copy of the book, email her mother, Katleen, at

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