Poets teaching in the schools
The Spring 1974 issues of the magazine “Maryland,” features an article by Dr. Lilian Randall titled “Please can we write another poem today?” The article results from the Maryland Poets-in-the-Schools Program, then in its third year. The Program brought professional poets into the classroom “to heighten students' awareness of of the power of language as a vehicle for self expression.” The article highlights the voices of the students and gives an idea of the quality of the students' writing produced in the Program. Five poets are spotlighted: Gilbert Byron, Alice Moser Claudel, Will Stanton, Lucille Clifton and Carol Peck. Two other elementary school teachers in the Poetry Program interviewed for the article are Roderick Jellema and Daniel Epstein. While short, the article brings to light an often overlooked commitment of poets to teaching poetry especially in the elementary schools, 3rd and 4th graders as well as 5th and 6th graders. Alice Moser (Rivera) Claudel, Bill Rivera's mother, dedicated much of her energies to teaching elementary school children the challenge and joys of writing poetry. Her work at the Berlin Middle School in Maryland was followed by her school commitment to young students in the bayou country of Barataria, as well as in Chalmette, Louisiana, and the story goes that she died with one of her student's papers in her typewriter. Such dedicated deserves note in our remembrance of things past and ongoing in the history of poetry.
Written by Bill Rivera November 2013
Some poets who regularly work in the DC Public Schools and with other groups that teach creative writing to grade school students include:
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