Juniors Explore Modern Poetry with Two Guest Poets
Posted on 05/29/2018
On Thursday, May 24, the Juniors of Bishop Ahr High School had the pleasure of welcoming two distinguished poets: Dr. Susanna Rich of Kean University and Mr. David Vincenti, a poet and engineer by trade. The two guests educated students on how to write and understand modern poetry.

The day began with an introductory session in the theater that included background information about each poet and the reading of some original works. Dr. Rich is a rare genuine spirit who talked about her life story then recited a poetic song about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from Juliet’s point-of-view. Students appreciated being able to see the story from Juliet’s perspective since Shakespeare never gives readers the full sense of her thoughts. Mr. Vincenti then spoke of his love for baseball and recited an attention-grabbing poem about the sport.

Later in the day, students broke into smaller groups to participate in individualized workshops led by either Dr. Rich or Mr. Vincenti. The workshops incorporated further analysis of poetry that challenged students not only to read the words, but to understand the senses associated with each line and each stanza. This allowed each Junior to have a new understanding of poetry before taking the next step of experimenting with their own writing. Before doing so, students were given the opportunity to meditate and think of memories that could in turn be crafted into simple verses. Some of the themes that came out of this brainstorming process included allergies, flowers, baseball, fishing, ice cream, and pools, just to name a few. Students were offered the chance to share their poems aloud and receive constructive criticism by their mentors that further built their skills. One of the tools for refining poems that Mr. Vincenti shared with students was to take out all the words related to a certain theme, such as spring, and replace them with another word. Students found it challenging at first but as more words were replaced, the development of the poems became more articulated.

Students appreciated that the guest presenters challenged students to push their limits while also respecting their boundaries. Junior Isabella Adorable said of Poetry Day, “It was a great experience because the hands-on workshops allowed me to learn more about the process of writing a poem and really helped me to refine my skills, skill that I plan on taking with me through college.”

This was one of many positive reactions from Juniors who felt that the experience was beneficial to them in furthering their knowledge of poetry and of their own creativity.