Reading & Literacy

U.S. Poet Laureate Promotes ‘Poem a Day’ Plan for Schools

By Catherine Gewertz — October 24, 2001 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The hope of the new U.S. poet laureate is simple but profound: On every day of the school year, in every school in America, children will hear one poem read aloud.

Billy Collins, who was appointed to the post of poet laureate consultant in poetry last summer by the librarian of Congress, planned to announce his new program, “Poetry 180,” this week at his inaugural reading as the country’s poetry guide and adviser.

The idea of the program, named for the average number of days in a school year, is to expose children to the beauty and power of language through poetry, unburdened by analysis.

“It could be a student, or a teacher, or coach reading a poem every day,” Mr. Collins said in an interview last week. “No study, just listening.”

Jill D. Brett, a spokeswoman for the Library of Congress, where Mr. Collins is in residence during his eight- month appointment, said the library envisions having 180 poems posted on its Web site, available for any teacher or administrator who wants to use them, by January, the intended start of the program.

Library officials hoped to have the first 20 poems loaded onto the site by this week, along with an introduction by Mr. Collins, who is a professor of English at the City University of New York’s Herbert H. Lehman College.

Love of Language

“The library hopes to inspire kids to develop a love of language,” Ms. Brett said. “When poems are read aloud, the reading becomes a community event.”

Ms. Brett said Library of Congress officials also hope Mr. Collins’ program will bring more students and teachers to the library’s Web site—already a popular site, with 1 billion visits last year—where they can find other useful classroom resources.

The idea for “Poetry 180" came from Mr. Collins, whose poetry is known for its accessibility and for combining humor with reflections on ordinary life. He will choose the works that are included, Ms. Brett said.

Other poet laureates have tried to spread a love of poetry to schoolchildren. In the past six to eight years, laureates such as Rita Dove have made it a priority to conduct outreach programs to schools, Ms. Brett noted.

But this is the first time a poet laureate has used the Internet for outreach, she said.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Classroom Strategies for Building Equity and Student Confidence
Shape equity, confidence, and success for your middle school students. Join the discussion and Q&A for proven strategies.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Disrupting PD Day in Schools with Continuous Professional Learning Experiences
Hear how this NC School District achieved district-wide change by shifting from traditional PD days to year-long professional learning cycles
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Reading & Literacy Opinion How to Make the Science of Reading Work for Teachers
One state took a different path with good initial results, writes a state chief academic officer.
Lisa Coons
5 min read
Searching knowledge concept. Men and women stand next to book and find necessary information. Independent training and education.
Rudzhan Nagiev/iStock
Reading & Literacy Most States Screen All Kids for Dyslexia. Why Not California?
The state teachers' union has historically been among those opposing a bill to screen students for signs of the disorder.
5 min read
Dyslexia word formed with wooden blocks.
iStock/Getty Images
Reading & Literacy Q&A Why Printed Books Are Better Than Screens for Learning to Read: Q&A
UCLA professor Maryann Wolf outlines the best ways to teach reading to kids who have grown up using digital devices.
3 min read
ed tech survey march 2023 klein q&a
F. Sheehan / Education Week and Getty<br/><br/>
Reading & Literacy From Our Research Center Reading on Screens for Class Assignments, in Charts
The EdWeek Research Center surveyed teachers nationally to probe how they use digital and printed reading materials.
1 min read
ed tech survey march 2023 bushweller
F. Sheehan / Education Week and Getty