Image from “To This Day,” one of the poems featured in “4 Poems for Making Your Students Love Poetry.”
April was National Poetry Month, and TeacherPop celebrated weekly by featuring four poetry selections from teachers who have participated in Teach For America’s Poet Warriors Project. Here, Emily Southerton, the founder of the Poet Warriors Project, looks back on the four successes that defined the month and offers insight on ways that teachers can encourage students to continue to speak—and be heard.
1) Our students spoke out, and broke the silence. As teachers, we get to hear and learn from our students daily—but within the national dialogue, we recognize the fact that our students’ voices go largely unheard. This National Poetry Month, our students spoke out against the silence, fought to be heard, and claimed their place in a larger movement:
[This place is] dark and it’s lonesome and it’s not at all where
I want to be,
But most of all,
Most of all it’s silent
It’s hushed down to a nearly inaudible whisper,
Just waiting for that door to burst open and let light come in…
But I’ll take a chance.
With one heart-wrenching throwback of this closet,
I’ll say the words I’ve been meaning to say
My whole life.
Christine Vela, 14-year-old Poet Warrior, Denver, CO
Excerpt from “Breaking the Silence”