It's that time of year again. The summer is fading into fall, the temperature is slowly cooling, students are returning to school.
This fall, 120 students will return to Harlem Academy, a New York City private school that prepares bright, motivated students from underserved communities for success at top secondary schools and lifelong learning. Since 2012, the Poetry Society of America has partnered with Harlem Academy to create a Visiting Poets Program, fostering the voices of young students through the transformative power of poetry.
The PSA's Visiting Poets Program places excellent, contemporary poets in the school's 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes, as well as the poetry club, where they provide inspiration, mentorship, and curriculum crafted especially for each group, with classes dedicated to composition, revision, and performance.
Harlem Academy teacher Whitney Wood praised the program for "the fire that visiting poets brought out in many of the students." She described a student who usually showed little engagement in English class, particularly when it came to writing, who responded to the PSA's Visiting Poets Program with excitement and eagerness, frantically composing poems and raising his hand exuberantly, desperate to share what he'd written. After the visiting poet commented that this student's poems demonstrated a talent for the epic, the student made sure to announce with pride that he was a poet who liked to write epics!
This is just one anecdote that illustrates the inspiring impact the PSA's Visiting Poets Program has had on students at Harlem Academy, students from low-income families who are at the crucial stage of exploring, creating, and defining their own identities. How thrilling to know that, through this program, we can help students add poet to the list of titles they apply to themselves!
The annual cost of this program is a mere $7,500 yet the impact it has on students is immeasurable. A generous supporter has donated $1,000 to this program, but we need your help to reach our goal. As a friend of the PSA, you know so well the incandescent power of poetry—how it can inspire, console, break us open, heal, ignite, and palpably change us. The range of poems produced in these classes, from the whimsical to the profound, is extraordinary. We at the PSA feel honored to have witnessed this program develop into an important part of the curriculum at Harlem Academy. Please consider donating today to help us continue to empower students at this remarkable school.
With great thanks,