This year in conjunction with our TCRWP Poetry Unit we launched “World Poetry Cafe.” The idea behind it is simple. Solicit other members of the school/broader community to come and share a poem they love. It can be from their home country, or somewhere else. It can be in English, or any other language. Basically there are no rules. As it turns out, most people are passionate about sharing a poem from their country in their mother tongue.
For the sake of consistency and ease of scheduling we picked the same time every day (coming back from lunch) as World Poetry Cafe time. Our guest poets would come in and share their chosen poem, then we had a little conversation … whether about the topic, or noticing special use of language, sounds, repetition, alphabet, etc. The whole thing lasted between 10 to 15 minutes.
In time the students in our classroom became used to this routine and would wonder who the day’s visiting poet would be and where their poem would come from. The students made connections between the lessons they were learning about poetry and how similar the application and structure was from poems all over the world – while also appreciating the differences between languages in their written and oral forms.
We had no shortage of volunteers from our school community to come and share. In fact, we had a different visiting poet for 35 days straight! In time students also volunteered to share which was great.
Definitely something that I recommend all classrooms to try when teaching poetry, and something that I know I will do again next year!