By now we are sure that you are aware that April is National Poetry Month! We hope you have already encountered poetry in some shape or form in the past week, whether it be on purpose or by accident. We hope it’s creeping into your daily life somehow, and that you’ve welcomed it!
Dodge Poetry has been keeping an ear to the ground to take note of the ways listening to poetry is worked into this month. We asked around some teachers on our Facebook and Twitter pages to see how poetry was being involved in classrooms all around the country.
Many teachers as well as non-teachers said they will take part in Poem in Your Pocket day, which is an idea we love because it is simply bringing the pleasure of being read to those around you, as you read your favorite poem to them. This is just one of the great programs suggested by The Academy of American Poets for National Poetry Month, along with the Dear Poet Project, which encourages students to write letters to poets after reading one of the poet’s poems. This spirit of exploration and connection with the poet is wonderfully intimate, and select letters will receive a reply on Poet.org. Click here to see The Academy’s 30 Ways to Celebrate, a great resource.
Not a new initiative, but also one of our favorites, is Poetry 180, which was started by Billy Collins during his time as Poet Laureate of the United States. Based on the accessible poems in the accompanying collection Poetry 180 (also the second collection, 180 More) the suggestion is that every school day start off with poetry. Ideally, the poems would follow the end of daily announcements, so that the whole school would start their day with the pleasure of listening to poetry. Even just in one classroom, the exercise of starting the day with a poem read aloud is a powerful one. And do not think the poems in Poetry 180 are for students only – there is powerful, relatable stuff in the collections, for readers of any age.
Poetry Foundation has started a page through SoundCloud called Record-a-Poem, where you can record yourself reading a favorite poem aloud and listen to those recorded by others. Poetryfoundation.com is a great place to find the text of some of these favorite poems, too. One fun listen is a reading by a 1st grade class in Oak Park, IL, in unison! We love the interaction that happens when you listen to someone’s rendition of a poem they love. Their connection brings new life to a poem you may not have connected with on your own.
Teachers are actively incorporating National Poetry Month in their classrooms in a lot of interesting ways. Some great activities that we heard:
We hope you have your ears open this month! You’re bound to hear a new favorite or an old love.
A big THANK YOU to all of the teachers who helped us by letting us in on what teachers are doing in their classrooms: Chris Ventimiglia, Suezette Given, Sarah Blake Schoenholtz, Shahe Mankerian, Alejandro Escude, Margaret Simon, Scott Woods, and Nancy Schneberger. We appreciate you!