Wardlaw-Hartridge Students Attend Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

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EDISON — On Friday, October 8, students enrolled in the Creative Writing course at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in North Edison attended the 13th Biennial Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. They were accompanied by Andrew Webster of Edison (Head of School), as well as Upper School English teachers Dr. David Berry of Edison and Allyson Schieve of New Brunswick.

Students attended “Poets on Poetry” sessions during which they learned from Festival Poets about their understanding of poetry, their experience of becoming a poet and how individual poems – both those written by themselves and others – have contributed to that process. These Festival Poets included Matthew Dickman, Michael Cirelli, Kyle Dargan, Billy Collins, Bob Hicok, and Oliver de la Paz.


Berry noted that Dargan shared about his experiences as a poet. For example, he ponders the contents of a poem for about 3 to 4 hours before writing it. He also noted that “it isn’t fun, it’s work” writing poetry. Cirelli, who is currently writing poems about MTV’s “The Jersey Shore,” said that he tries to “find an entry point in a topic to write a poem in order to say something unconventional.” Cirelli also likes to use a big simile or metaphor in a poem.

The students also enjoyed Festival Poet Readings – one-hour readings shared by three poets, who read for 15 to 18 minutes each. Some of the Festival Poets featured were: Kwame Dawes, Martin Espada, Dorianne Laux, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Santee Frazier, Dickman, Collins, Rita Dove, and Sharon Olds.

Schieve said, “Poetry is inaccessible to teenagers because it is usually perceived as being boring and stale. But to be in a forum where it is read to them by the actual poet makes it more interesting and contemporary.”

BUDDING POETS…Wardlaw-Hartridge students who attended The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark are pictured with English teachers Allyson Schieve and Dr. David Berry. Photo by Andrew Webster of Edison

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