MA Poetry festival

On Friday, I took 14 students (Nine 11th graders, two 10th graders, and three 9th graders) to the Massachusettes Poetry Festival’s High School Poets Workshop. A month or so ago, a coworker had sent me info about the festival, knowing that I live in the area. On the website I discovered that they were having an all-day workshop designed specifically for high school students. I contacted the organizer and was thrilled to be able to bring a group of students. Since they couldn’t accommodate entire schools, students who were interested in coming had to send me an email explaining why they wanted to come and what they hoped to get out of the event.

We left at 8:45 from the school. The day started with an assembly of all the students from different schools. There were probably 150-200 people, from at least 10 different schools. There was an opening poem, remarks from the organizers of the festival, the superintendent of Lowell Public schools, etc.

Students then headed off to workshops. Students had signed up in advance for the two workshops that interested them the most, out of the ten being offered. A poet who I’ve admired and loved since I was in high school, Regie Gibson, taught one of the workshops. Workshops ranged from how to use imagery and sensory language in your writing, to how to read your poetry out loud/perform it, to creating rhythm in writing. In one workshop, students worked on voice, writing poetry from the perspective of someone close to a celebrity (What would Beyoncé’s hairdresser have to say about her famous client’s last hair appointment? Angelina Jolie’s personal trainer about the way the movie star works out?”).

After the workshops we received bagged lunches. My students were incredibly excited to talk about their workshops and what they’d done. Whenever I spend time with students away from school, I am amazed by how important it feels. I get to know students in an entirely different way. They open up more, they seem to feel much more free… One of my professional goals this year (we have to set three each year) is to make more connections between my curriculum and our community. I want to really work on bringing in guest speakers and bringing my students outside of the classroom! It’s so much work–this event took weeks of emails, creating permission slips, contacting the bus company, etc.–but absolutely worth it. During lunch, and on the bus ride home, students kept thanking me. They met writers from other schools, worked with and learned from well-known poets, and had a ton of fun.

After lunch, we then headed to a large assembly where there was a poetry competition. Each school had nominated one student before the event to compete. The top two winners got to read with Robert Pinsky on Saturday. The student who read on behalf of our school didn’t win, but did an amazing job! The event ended at 3, and we headed back to school.


1 Response to “MA Poetry festival”

  1. Randy Says:

    You do great things.