Sunday, April 3, 2016

Video Sunday: Favorite Poem Project (ages 10 and up)

The Favorite Poem Project is dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry’s role in Americans’ lives. Founded by Robert Pinsky shortly after he was appointed the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States in 1997, this project has become a wonderful resource and inspiration.
Favorite Poem Project
It began as an initiative to create an audio and visual archive of 1,000 Americans reading aloud their favorite poems. Americans from every state and from all ages have submitted their favorite poems. I have loved exploring the resources available online, both video and audio recordings of Americans young and old sharing their favorite poems. Today, I'd like to share two favorite videos that particularly spoke to me.

Pov Chin, a student from Stockton, California, shares Langston Hughes' "Minstrel Man". I love how she connects to this poem, how it helps her express her own experience as a teen.

You can find the full text of the poem at PBS NewsHour, along with a transcript of Pov's reflections.
"I like it (Langston Hughes' poem) because it describes me. Like, I walk around with a smile on my face all the time at school and with friends and stuff, but I still have different thoughts running through my head. It’s never stable. It’s always going."
"We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks, is a poem that's often shared in middle school--I think that kids will respond to the way John Ulrich, a student in South Boston, Massachusetts, reads it and talks about it.

John speaks about the "cluster of death" that has surrounded his neighborhood, from young people's deaths due to drug overdoses and depression. He also shares the program he started "South Boston Survivors", to help young people find creative sparks to redirect them from depression.
"When I first heard 'We Real Cool', just made sense to me, how things started out so innocent and got so drastic so quick."
Yina Liang, a student in Decatur, Georgia, shows how she connects to Emily Dickinson's poem "I'm nobody! Who are you?" I particularly like the way that Yina shows how she has to juggle all of the expectations she feels, all of the demands--and how sometimes, she just wants to escape and be nobody.

"I think I discovered this poem in 7th grade... Every year, as life gets busier, the poem keeps coming back to me and it connects so much better every time that I think, in time, it discovered me instead."
There are many more Favorite Poem Project videos that spoke to me as an adult, but today I wanted to share the ones that I think will particularly resonate with kids. I hope you enjoy exploring these resources as much as I have.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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