April is National Poetry Month, a day of celebration launched by the Academy of American Poets in April of 1966, is meant to remind people everywhere the importance of poetry to our humanity. In The Daily Knight, an internal newsletter sent daily to students, faculty, and staff, English teachers have been sharing poems special to them with a short reflection. The value of poetry, though, isn't limited to the English classroom.
"Poetry is a way to explore the vast reaches of existence between the bare facts," Eric Avera, science teacher and poet says. "It is the language of empathy: it allows us to make sense of ourselves and to experience deep connections to others. Poetry allows us to express the inexpressible, like pouring a gallon of paint over an invisible object and seeing it for the first time. Poetry has helped me manage grief, express love, preserve memories, unlock meaning. It is an essential survival tool in my life."
Elizabeth Kechejian, English IV AP teacher and a poet, believes poetry brings us back to ourselves. "Reading poetry is actually an act of self-study. With every poem you will realize people are not that different from each other. Poets show, not tell, us that we are all human."
"Poetry slows us down," Evan Chastain, English I and IV AP teacher, adds. "It demands that, in a world of rhythm, routine, and constant movement, we pause and take time. The time of a poem is set by its stanzas, its structure, its form on the page. But this is misleading. A good poem sticks with you, draws you in to its moments, its delays. You look at a 14-line sonnet, a single sentence Ezra Pound image, and you feel you can manage it. You are woefully mistaken and too late realize that there is no book to close, no page to turn, no escape. The moment is with you. You've been had."
Dr. Anna Saikin, avid poet, English I and English II Honors teacher with a doctorate in Victorian literature, admits to once being embarrassed to admit she liked reading poetry. "Even though," she adds, "I used to memorize Shel Silverstein and listened to music that focused on language." For Saikin, it was in an English classroom where she learned to embrace poetry, and she has been teaching her students to do the same. "I like the playfulness of rhymes that meets a seriousness of purpose. By regularly introducing a range of poems and poets to my students, I hope to teach them not to be afraid of big ideas or big feelings, but most of all, not be afraid of being themselves. I firmly believe that there's a poem for everyone, which is why I like to teach both canonical authors and lesser-known contemporary geniuses. Hopefully by teaching a wide range of poems, every student will be closer in their journey to finding that one, perfect poem that speaks directly to them."
Ms. Houle, Creative Writing Teacher and published poet, believes writing poems is a way of singing in a different style. "The craft captures rhythm, beat, skill, and emotion. For my students, poetry offers a safe harbor when exploring voice and self. It has a powerful calming effect. I believe poetry is the most intimate way to tell a story, a way to share a lifetime as a snapshot through words and verses."
Her writing students get to do a lot of poetry, a form that can bring out the best in their writing. Sara Faulconer '21 finds poetry to be an outlet for her voice and allows her to express herself creatively. Alexa Hendricks '21 has always loved to write, but poetry didn't capture her attention until high school. She says, "I enjoy the ability poetry gives me to express ideas not bound by traditional structure and grammar, and it often has a lyrical nature. Creative writing brought me out of my comfort zone of prose and encouraged me to try my hand at poetry, and I had a lot of fun."