Thursday, April 13, 2006

Poetry and High School Kids

I've been wondering off and on all day what I would post about tonight. Should I mention that Clarissa still hasn't married Lovelace? He's gotten her to appear in public pretending she is Mrs. Lovelace but that's as far as that has gone. Or maybe a bunch of links are in order? But then I was listening to Public Radio and they had a story on Poetry Out Loud. Have you heard of it? It's a poetry recitation and performance contest for high school students. Students choose a poem from Poetry Out Loud's list, and there is a lot to choose from Poe's Annabel Leigh and Robert Frost's Birches, to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's How do I Love thee? and Gertrude Stein's Susie Asado. Something for everyone. The contest starts at the classroom level, advances to school-wide, then state-wide. The winner from each state then receives $200 an all-expense-paid trip to Washington DC to compete nationally in May. What's really exciting is the kids. They start off complaining and then really get into it. Some of the kids interviewed in the story actually talked about how surprisingly relevant they found the poetry (unfortunately the broadcast is not available online). Hearing from a high school kid's mouth that he has learned something about relationships from a poem is thrilling. Could this program, a collaboration between The National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, and State Arts Agencies, be creating the next generation of poetry readers? I sure hope so.