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Connecting Students with Contemporary Poetry Resources

Bring the study of poetry into the modern era with a more captivating set of contemporary ideas and resources.

By Lani Aquino

Poetry is more than just rhyming words and abstract ideas. Many of the modern nuances of poetic form allow students to explore this written and spoken art in new ways and find emotional connections and/or outlets in the study and creation of verse. April is National Poetry Month and the perfect time to add a contemporary spin to this ageless craft.

A study of poetry can involve so many aspects of learning. Comparisons can be made between poems created two centuries ago and those created two days ago. By studying the works of different poets and the varied forms that their writings can take, students are given glimpses into other times, other cultures, and a wide gamut of emotional responses to life through the written and spoken word. When students start to create their own responses to life and their surroundings, some really powerful learning and introspection can occur.

Finding the right resources to spark student interest can open their worlds to a whole new realm of self-expression. By studying contemporary poets and/or viewing any era of poetry through a contemporary lens, students can find new levels of engagement within the lines and stanzas of a wide array of poetic forms. These poetry resources are a perfect starting point or addition to an established unit that brings learning to life through poetry.

Poetry Slams- These poetic performance pieces allow students to take the stage and share their personal creations. Poetry Slam Inc. was founded to offer a venue and a voice for sharing poetry. This popular form of performance poetry has lots of takeaways for classroom usage too. In a Teaching Slam Poetry unit shared by Scholastic, links to documentaries, modern poem studies, and many other engaging resources can be found. Hosting a poetry slam as a unit culmination is an excellent way to bring some added excitement to the topic.

Poets.org- This website is a go-to collection filled with endless resources. From Poem-a-Day to weekly Teach This Poem offerings, there are a wide variety of poems, lessons, and ideas shared that can be used for more structured learning scenarios or simply for turning lovers of poetry onto a link with abundant resources. A few of the noteworthy offerings on the site include:

Poetry Month Resources that share great teaching ideas and activities to get young poets learning and composing their own verses during the month of April or anytime.

Material for Teachers that includes lesson plans, a guide to using the website, a poetry study calendar, and links to their very own Educator Community.

Poetry Foundation- Another bevy of resources is at the fingertips with this website. Lots of audio and video links allow for a digital study of poetry. There are several programs and initiatives that offer varying levels of involvement. There’s even a Poetry Foundation app that allows users to access a vast library of poems, search for poems via memorable lines, share poems through social media, and more. An excellent way to make poetry accessible anytime.

The Poetry Archive- This website offers many unique ways to explore, study, and teach poetry. The Poetry Archive was founded to capture the voices of poets reading their own works and to share these unique recordings. The large collection of poems is an excellent find, and there are loads of lesson plans and resources divided by age groups. The lessons allow students to interact with poetry by reading and/or listening to recordings, creating their own poems, completing extension activities, and exploring a variety of additional resources. By creating an account, favorite poems, poets, and websites can be archived and shared with others.    

The study of poetry doesn’t have to consist of staring at stanzas and hoping to glean meaning from the words on the page. By incorporating some more contemporary lessons and poetic presentations, poetry becomes a much more engaging form of expression to a much wider audience. These resources can help teachers reach more students by adding an audible component that creates a more personalized poetry experience.

If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings and tools (for teachers and for families) that we offer.

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