Ten Things I’ve Learned from Poetry

Jonathan Katz. Photo courtesy of NASAA

Jonathan Katz. Photo courtesy of NASAA

October 7, 2014By Jonathan Katz, CEO, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

 

As a young faculty member in the English department of Wichita State University, I worked occasionally as a poet-in-the-schools for the Kansas Arts Commission. For this program (funded in part by the NEA, I am proud to say), I traveled to small communities and met with teachers, administrators, students, and community groups to share poetry and promote its ongoing teaching as a valued part of the curriculum.

 

 

Like many creative writing teachers, I was influenced by Kenneth Koch’s ground-breaking book, Wishes, Lies and Dreams, and so I was profoundly affected, in one little town, to recognize that what my students presented as their dreams were, in fact, the cartoons I had seen the previous Sunday morning in my motel room. I changed my methods, began to incorporate a lot of imaginative exercises demanding interplay between images and language, and have never stopped thinking about how our American life will be diminished if we don’t succeed in keeping every child’s full range of senses open, fresh, capable of observing and criticizing the enveloping world, and of developing its individual identity. This is why I was pleased to see state arts agencies share the vision of the NEA and the Poetry Foundation to create the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest and why I am not surprised to have seen participation grow rapidly to more than 365,000 students annually. – See more

 

 

 

 

The Survivor Tree Poem: Arts Advocating Healing

“There is nothing so bad that we cannot survive it.”

The Survivor Tree is a children’s poem on behalf of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. It’s the story of a lone pear tree at the World Trade Center that miraculously survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. Discovered in the rubble by recovery workers and nursed back to health, the Survivor Tree has become a metaphor for hope and the resilience of the human spirit.

 

Another testament to The Arts and its healing powers.