For young readers, it’s often easy to look at books and poetry as a kind of magic trick that only writers know the secrets to, where imaginative worlds and mysterious words are created out of thin air. As one of those young readers, participating in the high school poet laureate competition made me feel as if I was let in on that secret, and once I started writing poetry I became more and more eager to pick up a pen as often as I would pick up a book.
- Ben Miller, High School Poet Laureate, Northwest High School, 2009
High School Poet Laureate Duties
Ways to Celebrate
History of The Poet Laureate Project
The High School Poete Laureate Project was started in 2003 as a a collaboration between the public and school libraries as part of the Greensboro Public Library and Friends of the Greensboro Public Library's Poetry GSO program. This is a wonderful community event which brings together students, poets and teachers to celebrate poetry. The original goal of the project was to build community through poetry and it certainly has done that.
Public and private high school students in Guilford County are invited to participate each year. Each high school selects three poets who have submitted at least three original poems to a school committee for judging. A guest judge then selects the poet laureate for each school from the three candidates.
In the past, the poets laureate have been guests of the Greensboro Public Library and enjoyed meeting with two former poets laureate of the United States. In 2004-05, students met Rita Dove and in 2003-04, they met Billy Collins. This was a wonderful opportunity for our students. At their home schools, poet laureates have hosted readings, coffee houses, poetry announcements, teas, read for food drives and other events to promote poetry in April during National Poetry Month. Media specialists and teachers in the schools work closely with these students to encourage a poetry community in the high schools. Many schools invite their poet laureate to read an original poem as part of the final awards ceremony or even graduation.
After the poet laureate is chosen for each school, their three poems are collected into a booklet, simply named Word, which is distributed throughout the schools.
Timeline of visiting poets at the Greensboro Public Library as part of PoetryGSO
Poet Laureate Judge
2017 Andrew Saulters 2016 Shawn Delgado
Writer's Group of the Triad:
Judith Behar Jonah Meyer
Dr. Anjail Ahmad
Dr. Mark Smith-Soto
Selecting a Poet Laureate Process
- Each participating school will hold a contest to select their poet laureate.
- The contest is open to all students in the school, not just creative writing or English classes.
- Each student who enters may submit up to three original poems, typed or neatly handwritten on separate sheets of paper with name and grade and biographical statement attached.
- Each school will submit the three best packets of student work to an outside judge.
- The outside judge will choose the best entry from each school.
- When your poet is selected, announce to school and provide names, poems and a short biography about that one student to the High School Poet Laureate coordinator for submission to Word.
High School Poet Laureate Duties
- Represent their school in programs planned by the Friends of the Greensboro Public Library and the Greensboro Public Library.
- Promote poetry in their school.
- Additional duties as determined by the individual schools.
Ways to celebrate
- Poetry reading, poetry slam.
- Read for Food canned goods drive.
- Poetry projects around campus (poetry wrap, poetry pillows, poetry tents at lunch)
- Invite a poet to work with students.
- Read a poem, get a cookie. (pull stacks of books, set up a mike and ask students to read poetry during lunch. Free cookies for readers)
- Write an occasional poem for Awards Day or Graduation and read.
- Poetry announcements
- Poetry films. Voices and Visions is available online here.
- Poetry tea or outdoor reading.
- Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day - April