To celebrate Poetry Day or Poetry Week you can chose a range of activities:
UNESCO statement: "Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind".
National Poetry Day is a New Zealand-wide celebration of poetry and runs in conjunction with the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It is usually in August
Book Spine Poetry Competition – was one of the first poetry competitions we organized and it was an immediate success!
Select lots of books – fiction and nonfiction with interesting titles. Put as many as you can handle with their spine on the copymachine and copy on A3 and in colour. Laminate the A3s and cut the titles with the guillotine in strips.
Put all the strips on a large table so they are readable and easy for students to select.
Decide how many sentences the poems can contain. We allowed for no more than 10.
Use a white board or display board for the students to display the poems. They can fix the strips with blu-tak to the board. Make sure that if you run a competition you have their name written under the poem. Provide a whiteboard marker. Photograph each poem with the name of the owner. Or have them photographed by the student and sent to you by email. After the poem has been photographed, the student can remove it to make space for other students who want to give it a go and use some of the spines.
Especially when you have a class full of students trying to become Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman all at the same time it can be crowded around the table and on the board.
We had individual students flocking around the tables and in front of the whiteboard for as long as the competition ran. During their reading sessions, if the teacher allowed, or during interval and during lunchtime. Even after school we saw students gathering together to come up with unexpected gems.
Every evening I downloaded the photos to my computer and printed the poems – 4 on A4 single sided. A lot of work but after a week we had a professional poet judging the poetry. Our judge wanted a paper version so she could select, reread and sift until she was happy with her decision. She selected the best 10 poems and 1 final winner who received the winning poem printed on A3 and laminated. All 10 got a free poetry workshop with the professional poet.
Window To Poetry – To celebrate Mother Tongue, Other Tongue, an event held in August, we combined it with a Poetry Day and asked students and teachers to write their favorite poem on the Library windows in their favorite language. Or, if they didn't know any poetry they liked they could make their own poems, as long as it was appropriate.
We ended up with lots of poetry in a range of languages from all over the world. Even my favorite Twentse poet Willem Wilmink (local Dutch dialect) with his beautiful poem about Enschede was represented. Next to that we had South African, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Tongan, Samoan, German, English, French, Thai and Korean poetry on display.
Make sure to buy a range of appropriate window pens/markers. I used an unknown brand and type and we needed professional graffiti cleaners to take it off. Luckily we had it on the windows for nearly a year and lots of people commented on the beauty of it so I don't feel too guilty (:-)
Poetry In Motion – Students could use the poetry display board to pin their own poems to the board. I had a hat with scrap paper and a pencil next to the board and they could put their work wherever they liked. Staple it to strips hanging from the shelves or put it in the up-side-down paper hats I had hanging from the shelves. They liked the freedom! Click here to view the display Poetry in Motion where you can find tips on creating a poetry display.
Poetry in Numbers – Poetry written with a specific amount of numbers in it. This can be 3 or 5 or 10, depending on how hard you want to make it and the length of the poem. It can be numbers like in 2gether or gr8 as substitute for letters like in txt messages, or numbers as in the poem below. The mathematicians among the poets will love it.
7 days make a week,
7 wonders in the world,
7 dwarfs with their Snow White
7 seas round the earth.
7, 14, 21, 28, 35,
42, 49, 56, 63.
7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70
Haiku Poetry – Organize a Haiku Competition and publish all Haikus on a board or on the windows.
Limerick Competition – For the lighthearted touch you can organize a Limerick Competition. Not as 'easy' as a Haiku but often more humorous.
Colour Poetry – Let your students describe what a specific colour does to them, what emotion pink enhances or what feeling yellow gives them….
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