Our hotel gives us the Honolulu Star*Advertiser each morning. I was pleased to see a front page story this morning about poetry, “Poems give voice to students’ creativity,” by Michael Tsai. (I had hoped to share the link, but the paper has very strict access requirements.)
The article talked about the month-long residency of Hawai’i-born poet Laurel Nakanishi at Palolo Elementary sponsored by the nonprofit Pacific Writers’ Connection. The fourth grade class which is the focus of the article has 18 of 23 students who are English language learners, meaning that English is not their first language. The usually reticent students come alive when they write and share poetry.
I was especially struck by this paragraph:
Such indulgences in creative arts and the humanities were supposed to have become extinct from school curricula in the age of rigid standardized testing. But as a growing number of elementary school teachers can attest, every hour spent practicing the fundamentals of free verse returns dividends of creativity, expressiveness in figurative language and overall language sensitivity that measure well on current Common Core State Standards and other assessments.
I was thinking about the young poets who participate in the Binghamton Poetry Project both in the classroom and in extra-curricular sessions. Their obvious joy in poetry and using language in new ways mirrors that of the students who worked with Nakanishi in Honolulu.
The power of poetry!