This month kicks off Poetry Out Loud, a nationwide program sponsored by the NEA, that features high school students from across the country reciting poetry in their classrooms. Each class selects a winner and then has a school-wide competition that must fit within the program's guidelines. The website is poetryoutloud.org. The school winner then moves on to the state competition. Each state selects a winner, who receives an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. for the national competition.
The program, which began in 2006, was the brainchild of Dana Gioia, the former director of the NEA. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gioia on several occasions, and he has been a guest on my website. Mr. Gioia has done more than anyone else I have met to promote poetry in the United States. The goal of Poetry Out Loud is to create a national competition that has similar goals as the National Spelling Bee.
I have the privilege of teaching juniors at a high school at The First Academy, a high school located in Orlando, Florida. My classes, and my school, have participated in this program for three years now. It is amazing to see the look on students faces as they watch their classmates stand alone at the front of the classroom and read and interpret a poem from memory. It prepared from them for real-life presentations and gives them confidence to stand in front of a group. They also understand the importance of hearing 'poetry out loud'.
Over the years I have interviewed several of our country's finest living poets. I will post a new blog each week over the next month featuring a poetry interview I have done. One of my goals with my website was to create a forum for poets to read their work to a large audience. It brings me great joy to bring these interviews to you. Teachers are welcome to use any of these interview without my permission. Just spread the word. Poetry is still alive! Enjoy.
My first guest will be Philip Schultz. This interview features Mr. Schultz reading and discussing FAILURE, a book of poems that won the Pulitzer Prize.
Here is what I wrote when the interview was first broadcast in 2008:
FAILURE is a brilliant new book of poetry by Philip Schultz; his first new collection in fifteen years. Failure is something we don't like to talk about, yet it is something that most of us know a lot about.
There is nothing wrong with failure (hopefully we learn from it). Mr. Schultz's collection is thought provoking and wise. During the interview he reads four poems aloud.
One of my goals when I started this venture was to offer poets a venue where listeners could listen to them read their work. I believe it is the best way to experience a poem.