Monday, November 22, 2010
By Ayesha Rehman
The biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival is the largest poetry event in North America. The poetry festival, held in even-numbered years since 1986, immerses high school students, teachers, and poetry lovers in discussions and readings focused on poetry. Well-known poets such as Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, Kay Ryan, Amiri Baraka, and Marie Ponsot attended the festival.
This year Bryant high school students and English teacher Ms. Roach went to the festival with great enthusiasm as students have waited for this festival in New Jersey for two years. “All my friends were going there and [also] some of my favorite poets were going to read aloud,” said Bryant senior Tashrique Khandaker, expressing his desire to go.
Upon reaching the poetry village in Newark, NJ, students split intto three different groups to hear read aloud presentations from some of the famous poets. All Bryant students were impressed by the vast arrangements put forth for the festival.
The festival also featured a Q&A session titled “Conversation on the Life of the Poet” with a small audience. Bryant students attended one with Kwame Dawes, Claudia Rankine, and Kay Ryan. In this discussion, the audience was given a chance to ask the poets questions pertaining to poetry and life in general.
This festival has helped to engender educational, cultural, and innovative ideas among poets coming from all across the country. Khandaker expressed his learning experience as exhilarating after hearing Baraka’s sound-induced poem reading. “I learned that poems could be made more interesting and fun if a simple aspect such as sound is added.”
Poetry books, shirts, bottles with the festival’s logo, and different accessories were sold. It will truly be one of the most memorable experiences for the approximately 5000 high school students and teachers who had come to the festival. A student from Bryant said, “Festivals like this makes me realize that there are so many people out there with a common love for poetry. The world is big, but it becomes understandable when all with the same passion come together.”