January 18, New York—An ambitious new effort from the Academy of American Poets aims to put 30,000 poetry books into middle-school classrooms and create an online hub for teachers and students across the country.
Beginning this week, teachers can go to Poets.org to sign up for the "National Poetry Read-a-Thon," a new program that will connect thousands of students with great poetry.
"We believe this program can help jump-start the reading of poetry in classrooms, or supplement the work that teachers are already doing," said Tree Swenson, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.
Everything teachers need for the Read-a-Thon can be found at Poets.org/readathon. They can sign up to receive a free poetry anthology, download Read-a-Thon lesson plans, find worksheets for students, and discuss the Read-a-Thon with other teachers in a special online forum.
A new poetry anthology is being published for the occasion. Entitled How To Eat a Poem, the anthology features poems appropriate for students between the ages of 10 and 14.
How To Eat a Poem is being published by Dover Press in an initial run of 30,000, and each of those books will be distributed to teachers and students for free.
Poets.org, which is currently celebrating its tenth year online, is the most popular site about poetry on the web. Among the educational resources available on Poets.org are free curriculum guides for teachers, hundreds of poetry audio clips, and online notebooks where students can save their favorite poems. In addition, there are nearly 2,000 poems, more than 500 poet biographies, and 400 essays and interviews.
Poets.org will also be the place to track the progress of the Read-a-Thon, as students' responses to poems will be posted online. Students will be able to read the work of their peers, and teachers will be able to share their experiences with other teachers. And at the conclusion of the Read-a-Thon, five school libraries will receive $250 grants for the acquisition of poetry books.
"The Poetry Read-a-Thon is the most recent in a long line of innovative programs from the Academy of American Poets," said Swenson. "Since the early 1960s, when the Academy started the nation's first-ever artists-in-the-schools program, to 1996, when we were one of the first arts organizations with a significant online presence, the Academy has been at the forefront of arts education."
The Poetry Read-a-Thon will begin in April, during the 11th annual celebration of National Poetry Month, which was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. The Read-a-Thon is being produced in collaboration with the National Council of Teachers of English.
ABOUT THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS
The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world; Poets.org, a website presenting a wealth of great poems, audio recordings, poet biographies, and interactive discussions about poetry; the Poetry Audio Archive, capturing the voices of contemporary American poets for generations to come; and American Poet, a biannual journal published for the Academy's 8,000 members.
The Academy also awards prizes to accomplished poets at all stages of their careers—from the hundreds of student prizes at colleges nationwide to the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement in the art of poetry.
For more information, visit Poets.org.
For more information about this press release, contact Beth Harrison at [email protected] or (212) 274-0343 ext. 34.