Student conduct festivities for National Poetry Month

April 23, 2010 — by Parul Singh and Kim Tsai

Poetry students gather for the last time as the poetry program will be coming to an end this year.

“Inside the circle are 300 things nobody understands and, maybe, nobody’s ever seen/How many can you find?” The students in several different English classes looked up at the stage, listening in wonder to the words of Erica Goss.

That was the theme this year’s poetry panel put on by the Creative Writing: Poetry students in honor of National Poetry Month. National Poetry Month is celebrated in April, the same month as Shakespeare’s birthday. This celebration was bittersweet as the poetry students know that it may very well be the last time they do this. Although many poetry students are hopeful for the future of poetry, the Creative Writing elective are set to be cut from the list of classes because of a lack of signups.

Despite this sad ending for the poetry program, the students worked tirelessly to make this one of the best panels yet. “We just celebrate poetry. What we do is try to get everyone to be involved in it, so we put up poems on every door and we also set up a panel to present poetry to the school,” said senior Alice Liu, who has been taking poetry for two years.

This year the panel consisted of two professional poets presenting their work to students in the McAfee Center.

“Last year it was more intense because we were the ones presenting our poems. But this year it wasn’t as intense because we were just backstage helping out, but I think this year was better because everybody got to see what real poets sound like and do,” said senior Mindy Hsiao, a CW: Poetry 3 student.

Nevertheless, poetry students still had a big role to play and a lot of time and effort went into the presentation.

“We helped out a lot this year, we did the sets, we manned the whole presentation, and we had to do the introductions,” said Liu.

The two professional poets were Erica Goss and Mark Heinlein. Both of these poets have been with the poetry program at Saratoga High for years and often interact with the students. “[Heinlein] helps us with field trips. He actually plans the field trips for us and [Goss] actually corrects the Poetry 2 and 3 students’ poetry,” said Liu.

As for the poems around the school, this is also an annual tradition during National Poetry Month. All of the poems are student poems and they are written by students in all levels of poetry. During the month, students laminate their poems and tape them on doors all over the school.

This year also marks the first year when former teacher Judith Sutton has not been teaching the poetry classes. Although she is currently substitute teaching for poetry teacher Bill Peck, the poetry students have noticed a difference in the celebrations. Peck has been out on sick leave for the past few months and is not expected to be back for the rest of the school year.

“It has changed just mostly this year because Ms. Sutton retired. She has been helping us with the panel most of the time, but this year we had to get two professional poets to come speak for us because there’s been no time to do the panel. Last year it took around fifty hours of rehearsals,” said Liu.

Although the poetry panel was completely different from previous years, some poetry students agree that they would rather do it this way.

“I’d rather be behind the scenes because it takes a lot of nerves to present all that,” Hsiao said. “I think this year was better than last year because everybody got to see what real poets sound like and do.”

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