A Poetic Celebration of Alumni Talent

Five Parker alumni who are professional poets recently returned to the school to share their stories, talent and expertise with our community of learners.

Grady Chambers ’06, Sophie Summertown Grimes ’03, Elise Paschen ’77, Julian Randall ’11 and Callie Siskel ’04 originally agreed to share their work as part of a public event at the school, and our visiting artists were more than happy to spend the day with students and their former teachers prior to their reading later that night.

All the guest poets participated in a Morning Ex, introduced by Upper School Poetry Club Co-Chair Harriet Fardon ’19, who invited each of them to share a story from their time at Parker and a piece of their work. The alumni poets also had time to field questions from the audience.

Throughout the remainder of the day, individual poets interacted with smaller classes of students. Grimes, Paschen and Siskel each gave an “opening reading” for a section of 6th grade English. Randall worked on writing odes with a section of 8th grade students, and Paschen listened to another section of 8th graders share their original works and offered constructive suggestions for improvement. Randall provided his perspective as a guest speaker in an Upper School Issues of Race, Class, Gender & Sexual Orientation class. Chambers and Siskel spent a full class period immersed in discussion with Mike Mahany’s Upper School American Literature class, while Grimes and Randall talked shop with students in Matt Laufer’s Upper School Poety class.

The alumni poets later returned to the school to socialize with their fellow alumni, friends and families at a special reception in the Kovler Family Library prior to the poetry reading. The event was wonderful, and, following the readings, Upper School Poetry Club Co-Chair Zoe Laris Djokovic ’19 led the audience in a spirited conversation asking, “What does it mean to be an American poet in 2019?”

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.