Poetry Friday: Spring & Fountain

Posted on by Michele Russo, Poetry Coordinator

The sessions have killed my fear of poetry!

–Teresa Dwyer, West Milford High School, West Milford

Trepidation, anxiety, a tight feeling in your chest…
Cold sweats, nail biting, excessive “ummm”ing…
Pacing, bellyaches…

It’s either a blind date, or it’s poetry. Think of it.  They both have the tendency to send us into the crazy zone.  You want to enjoy yourself but you’re afraid you won’t. You want to look good but you also want to be true to yourself. You’re wondering if you’ll make a connection, knowing that other times you felt completely confused or disengaged.   You doubt yourself like a lunatic. What should I wear? What should I say?  Will I sound stupid? And most of all you wonder, can this thing last?  Could I possibly fall in love?

If you’re really lucky, your blind dating days are behind you and you’re with someone who you love more deeply the more time you share. And if you’re even luckier, your love of poetry grows more and more through the years.

The Dodge Poetry Program has been curing teachers’ poetry-induced fears since 1992 when the Clearing the Spring, Tending the Fountain Program began.  At Dodge Poetry, we think poetry is first and foremost, meant to be enjoyed, just like any other art form.  And we think teachers deserve great experiences with poetry—both to support their teaching and as a respite from the pressure of teaching.

In our Spring & Fountain sessions for teachers, enjoyment and pleasure come first.   With the guidance of a Dodge Poet, teachers read poems aloud and share their responses.  Imagine the simple beauty of being read to, and of reading to others.  Nothing quite compares.  Knowing that everyone’s taste and experience with poetry is different, teachers contribute poems for the sessions so that the discussion is essentially driven by the group. Some bring poems they memorized in 2nd grade.  Some bring poems they teach and grapple with.  Some bring poems they’ve recently discovered.  There is no right or wrong poem to bring to the session and no right or wrong response.

What happens is pretty wonderful.  By discovering new poems, and rediscovering old favorites teachers reconnect with their own imagination.  While we can’t promise that your blind dates will be this good, we can promise that Spring & Fountain is like a combination of a book club, an improv show and a trip to the spa.  Lots of surprises, lots to think about and a great sense of having gotten away from the daily grind.

Spring & Fountain is available for any teacher who lives or works in New Jersey, and NJ Professional Development hours are awarded for participation.   All the information you need about registration is here.

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