Popping Up Some Poetry

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The word poetry often brings cringes and groans in the average high school student, but today was the first day of National Poetry Month and it was time to get past that disdain. The past few days we viewed some spoken word poetry videos to prime the poetry pumps. Today I introduced the students to the Pop-Up Poets of NYC. I was lucky enough to be a spectator at one of their Times Square pop-up performances a couple of years ago and thought then what a cool way to infuse poetry in unexpected places.

The poetry sharing fever caught on rapidly among my students. They chose their poems, mostly from Billy Collins’ Poetry 180 site, and set out to pop-up some poetry around the school. A few elected to go outside and sidewalk chalk their poems around the school, one copied a bunch of mini-poems and put them in books in our library to be found by an unsuspecting student at some later date. We also had some poems about self confidence and inner beauty posted in bathrooms around the school, but the most viral thing that happened was the guerilla-style poetry performances in random classrooms. I sent an email out to warn the staff of the possibility of students popping into their rooms with poetry to read first and then sent them out on their adventures. The videos of their performances were just awesome! One group read food poems to Culinary Arts, another group visited Anatomy classes with poems about science and still others went to random classrooms around the school spreading their poems about smiles, the future, hope and Chipotle burritos. They had so much fun they came back and asked if they could spend all period running around to classrooms reading poetry. What a great way to kick off National Poetry Month, and one of my students even asked if we could continue this after Spring Break!

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