Dear Poet 2020

Engage directly with award-winning poets as part of National Poetry Month.

Every National Poetry Month we present Dear Poet, a multimedia education project that invites young people in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems written and read by award-winning poets, including poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors and who have received our Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowships.

Teachers, you can assign your students to participate in Dear Poet from home with this truncated lesson plan:

1. Watch one of the videos below

2. Write the poet a letter in response to their reading—ask the poet questions about the poem, their voice as a writer, and what the poem made you think about.

Make sure to include the following: your name, the name of the poet to whom you’ve written, your grade level, and your school and teacher's name (when applicable).

3. Send your letter by email to [email protected] by May 31, 2020.

We will consider all letters for publication on after National Poetry Month, and the participating poets will reply to select letters of their choosing.

Lesson plan to use Dear Poet in the classroom

Read a brief essay about Dear Poet.

Read about one high school's participation in the project.

Alex Flynn Reads Her Dear Poet 2020 Letter

Guadalupe, Dear Poet to Jane Hirshfield

Letters from Dear Poet 2019

In a letter addressed to all participating students, Ellen Bass writes, “It’s been said that a poem begins with the writer and ends with the reader. Your letters make me feel like this poem has now made its full cycle. I’m gratified that it’s touched a place in your hearts, your imaginations, your lives.”

Read more than seventy letters from the 2019 Dear Poet project alongside responses from Ellen Bass, Linda Gregerson, Brenda Hillman, Alberto Ríos, Marilyn Chin, Alicia Ostriker, and Forrest Gander.