Those of you familiar with my work over the years know I am a passionate advocate for poetry. Thanks to a life-changing course I took with Dr. JoBeth Allen at the University of Georgia during Spring Semester 2003, my world changed, and so did my outlook on the importance of poetry in the classroom, libraries, and life. In my work as classroom teacher at Cherokee High and then Polaris Evening School, I tried to give my students many kinds of experiences in immersing themselves into reading, writing, and dwelling in poetry. As a librarian at The Unquiet Library, I published student works of poetry via blogs, bound books, leaflets we hung on our poetry clothesline about the library, and on posters we created from students’ original compositions and placed throughout the library on easels as part of a “poetry gallery.” I also worked with teachers to help students compose their own poems and then share that work as part of a poetry reading celebration; we also captured images, audio, and video from these shared poetry reading experiences. I know many of you in public, school, and academic libraries are also champions of poetry—not as a brutal exercise in explication but as a means of creative expression and providing community.
Many of you know I am also a huge fan of Natasha Trethewey, our U.S. Poet Laureate. Trethewey has partnered with PBS for a new series, Where Poetry Lives, as she explores the places poetry takes root in our lives. Tonight’s segment featured a visit to the Marcus Garvey Academy in Detroit where PBS NewsHour explored the ways that poetry integration into the school is making a difference in the lives of its young students who are blossoming as learners, writers, and individuals. With the help of the InsideOut Literary Arts Program, poetry is a medium opening doors of possibility as part of the learner experience at Marcus Garvey Academy. Take a listen to what these three young wise poets have to say about the ways poetry reflects what is important in their lives and their thoughts on the importance of writing poetry:
How does your library honor poetry as a medium of art, exploration, participatory learning, and civic discourse? How might your library create these kinds of experiences to help people find their voices and to make the invisible stories of your community visible? ,I encourage you to now take a look at these links from tonight’s feature story, which includes Trethewey’s recollections, thoughts from the InsideOut founder Terry Backhawk, the school principal’s reflections on the importance of poetry in his school, and additional commentary from the students.
- Previous blog posts about poetry in the library and the importance of poetry; also see this list of posts.
- My Natasha Trethewey Pinterest board
- Hamilton, B. (2009). Poetry Goes 2.0. Library Media Connection, 28(1), 26-27.