30 April 2013

Musing on National Poetry Month

On this last day of national poetry month, I’m musing about the shared poetry experiences I have had during April.  Even though I enjoy poetry all year long, there is something special about the month of April and the emphasis on the appreciation of poetry that brings people together to enjoy rich language.

Highlights from April

An Opportunity to Share

In the weeks prior to April, I sent an email to all the English department chairs in our district, asking them to share a couple of links related to national poetry month and asking them to share with their colleagues.  I am so glad I did this because all month long teachers have been sharing poems and poetry projects with me based on the work happening in their classrooms.  I heard about poetry slams and writing projects, saw examples of students work, and witnessed teachers smiling in the midst of End of Course Testing.

A Poem Per Day Project

A young high school English teacher from the district has been sharing daily poems performed by students.  He sends a different text and a video file each day.  Seeing the variety of poems students select makes me smile because it’s obvious the teacher provides choice in the project, so it is more meaningful to each student.  This tiny paragraph only hints at the enjoyment I received all month long from watching the students perform.  Unfortuantely, the links were shared through the district’s Sharepoint site and are not available for public viewing. 

A Pulitzer Winning Poet

On the very day one of the students performed a poem by Sharon Olds, one of my all-time favorite poets, Olds won a Pulitzer for Stag’s Leap. I was first introduced to the poetry of Sharon Olds while in college when my English professor handed me a book of her poems because he knew me well enough to know I would enjoy her work.  I have blogged previously about that experience in a post on close reading.  Poetry  (and excellent professors in the English department at Piedmont College = primary reason I learned to read closely).

A New Kentucky Poet Laureate

A former student, Amanda, who is now a friend and mentee sent me  a text message the day Kentucky’s new Poet Laureate, Frank X Walker was inducted for 2013-2014.  She texted to ask if I would be going to the induction ceremony.  Unfortunately, I had other obligations and was unable to go.  I encouraged Amanda to head over from her job in Frankfort to the Capitol Rotunda for the ceremony.  She was glad she made the trek and even sent me a picture she took with her phone and agreed to let me post it here.

A Poem in My Pocket

For the past several years, I have been a faithful participant in National Poem in Your Pocket Day.  This is when my introverted self becomes outspoken and slightly edgy for the day as I walk around asking people what poem they are carrying in their pocket and then telling them (or sharing, if they let me) the poem I am carrying.  This year I carried “The Wound Dresser” by Walt Whitman.  I carried this poem because  1) our family recently returned from Washington DC where we saw a quote from this poem at the entry tothe DuPont Circle Metro  and 2) National Poem in Your Pocket  Day was the day after the Boston Marathon bombing and I had the wounded victims on my mind.

A Poetry Bell Ringer Series

A former colleague shared her daily class warm up for the month.  Students read a poem and used a line from the poem to launch their journal writing for the day.  She provides more specifics on her blog.  In addition to sharing this bell ringer activity, she also encouraged people to utilize the Poetry Foundation’s new poetry app.  I loaded it and love it! Coincidentally, I had lost contact with this colleague because she moved to a new state,  but we reconnected via twitter during the fabulous month of April.

How do you share and enjoy poetry all year long?  Do you do anything special to celebrate poetry in the month of April?  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.