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A Trio of Poetry

As National Poetry Month draws to its close, we thought we’d share a small trio of poems, written by two of our own here at PAWLP, Lynne Dorfman and Kathy Barham. As you can see, Lynne’s “Country Inn: Imagining a Different Life” draws on rich sensory detail—the “fireplaces crickles and crackles” and “pageantry of brilliant color.” Meanwhile, Kathy’s “Spring” brings the reader up close and personal to Nature in an encounter with a cardinal in springtime, while “Hard to be a Cod” takes playful inspiration from, of all things, a typo.  Read more

Celebrating 35 Years of Teachers Teaching Teachers

On a beautiful spring Saturday, more than 75 educators, teachers, and friends gathered together to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the PA Writing and Literature Project. The luncheon, held at the West Chester Alumni Center, was hosted by Fellow and master of ceremonies, Bruce Perlman, and featured musical entertainment by Pat Bove, Gaetan Pappalardo, and Rob Levitt. Guests enjoyed a trip down memory lane with a photo slideshow as well as a poetry reading from PAWLP poet-in-residence Don LaBranche. PAWLP also raised money for its scholarship fund through a silent auction during the event. Many past and current PAWLP coordinators shared their thoughts, including PAWLP founder, Bob Weiss, who had a vision 35 years ago of a professional community of teachers and writers, a vision helped to make PAWLP what it is today. Remembering those early days, Bob shared:  Read more

From the Classroom: One Poem, One School

By Tricia Ebarvia

Every year as April approaches, my colleagues and I gather together to make a decision. What poem will we choose to celebrate National Poetry Month this year?

For the last nine years, students at Conestoga High School have marked National Poetry Month with a celebration known as “One Poem, One ‘Stoga.” Each April, every English class takes a break from its regularly scheduled programming to study one poem together. That means that more than 2,000 students, from 14-year-old freshmen to 18-year-old seniors, read the same poem. It’s one of the few shared experiences students have that transcends age, grade, and academic level. Read more

Tools of the Trade: Poetry

By Rita Sorrentino

“Poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it, but to those who need it.” These are the sentiments of Mario Ruoppolo in the film Il Postino. Mario, the temporarily employed peasant postman, is introduced to poetry late in his life through a developing friendship with his only client, the briefly exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda’s passion and Mario’s urgency combine in this tender tale of friendship, love and the power of poetry. In a significant segment of the film, Mario enthusiastically tape-records the beautiful sounds of the Mediterranean island. Seagulls, church bells, waves and fishnets symbolize Mario’s life, love and loyalty, and initiate his desire to express his thoughts and feelings in poetry.  Read more

Celebrating Poetry with Fig Trees and Cake | Guest Post by Janet Wong

By Janet Wong 

UPDATE 4/15/15: And we have a winner! Jo Anne Johns – you are the lucky recipient of a copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations! Please email us at so that we can put you in touch with Janet. Thanks so much to everyone who participated and left wonderful comments and ideas below. 

UPDATE 4/11/15: We’re so happy to announce a GIVEAWAY! Janet Wong has graciously offered to give away a copy of the Teacher / Librarian Edition of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. To enter, simply post a brief comment below and share one of your favorite poetry activities to do with students or how you plan to celebrate poetry this month! Please post your comment by Tuesday, 4/14, at 11:59 pm EST. A winner will be randomly selected and announced on Wednesday morning.

I agree with Janice Ewing: I too “have mixed feelings about special months designated for things that should be embedded into our teaching and celebrated all through the year.” Poetry is so easy to incorporate into your teaching day; most poems take less than a minute to read. Poetry is so useful, too, especially in teaching other content areas (science, math, social studies, the arts, and P.E. or sports). Saving it just for April would be like saving cake just for birthdays.

But there are some designated months that are still very necessary. Read more

Monday in the Middle: The Crossover, El Deafo, and Stella by Starlight

We are so excited to have Gabija Fischer blogging with us. Gabija, a librarian and media specialist, will share “must read” titles for middle school students here every first Monday with her series, “Mondays in the Middle.” 

By Gabija Fischer

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

crossoverHaving received the 2015 Newbery Award and Coretta Scott King Honor, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is sure to please. Although basketball plays a leading role in pre-teen Josh Bell’s life, this basketball season, Josh’s life is consumed more by the challenges of having a lovestruck twin brother and a stubborn father. Growing up with an ex-professional basketball player as their father, Josh and Jordan are expected to be excellent athletes, and they are. Josh’s greatest opponent, however, is not on the court. He faces the reality of growing up, of coping with changing family dynamics, of dealing with his confusion and anger. Despite his initial unwillingness to meet these opponents, Josh begins to understand his position in this game of life. And because Josh faces these opponents, he grows from them.

Read more