Last week, 18 seniors in English teacher Alicia Abood’s Poetry Elective class came together to showcase their passion and work for their families, faculty and staff who gathered in the Harris Center.
This semester-long elective is made up of students who either felt new to poetry or had been writing poetry intermittently for years. Throughout the semester, students read poems aloud in class written by published poets, which allows them to practice the art of reading a poem. As the semester ends, Abood asked these seniors to consider what it looks like for them to read their work aloud in a public setting.
“It’s okay for poetry to remain in notebooks and Google folders, but the students acknowledge that poetry is also meant to be shared,” Abood said. “This reading is the final exam for the course where students move through the process of considering how to read a poem, which of their poems may be best to read, etc.”
The contents of this reading, as well as another major culminating piece of the course, is the manuscript each student produces. This manuscript, consisting of around 15 pieces, represents their work throughout the semester.
“Some of their poems are more heavily revised than others because they are taking poems they wrote back in September, as well as poems that they wrote only a few weeks ago,” Abood explained. This revision process is extremely beneficial for students to mark their growth as poets throughout the semester. “I hope that they’ll save these manuscripts to return to in the future,” Abood stated. “Many students comment on how this process helps them to better understand what thorough revision can look like.”
In explaining what she took away from this poetry reading, Abood shared “In addition to getting to hear students read their work, they also introduce one another. This is a highlight because students speak both to what they like about their peer’s writing, but also what they appreciate about their peer as a human. It’s hard not to feel joyful and sentimental when listening to them celebrate one another in genuine, specific ways. I started teaching at Parker when these particular students were freshmen, and knowing what the past three years have been, it just feels good to be able to watch them share themselves with grace and generosity.”
to read selections of these poems.