The America Library of Poetry’s annual collection of student poetry from across the United States includes the work of hundreds of talented young authors winnowed from thousands of submissions each year. For aspiring writers, it’s nothing short of an honor to have your work chosen to be printed.
The “Futures: 2018 Poetry Collection” boasts a significant contribution from Cattaraugus County students. More than a dozen English students at Gowanda Middle School were pleasantly surprised to learn their submissions were selected for inclusion in the prestigious annual publication. It’s the largest showing for the district in the nearly 10 years that seventh-graders have been submitting their works under the guidance of English Language Arts teacher Cathleen Perry.
“At the end of their seventh-grade poetry unit, the standard is to teach them how to publish online and this contest is an example of that,” says Perry. “On the final day of the unit they are allowed to either make a personalized poem or publish it and submit through the contest.”
During the poetry unit, which last academic year coincided with National Poetry Month in April 2018, the students model published poets and work on imagery. Perry attempts to incorporate art and music with the lessons as it allows her to teach onomatopoeia, simile and metaphor through sight and sound.
“Poetry gives them a little bit of expression, personalization and more freedom,” says Perry. “They blossom when they’re allowed to do that, and I’m really proud of their achievements.”
“Our goal at the middle school and educators as a whole, is to continually attempt to create educational experiences and activities which will genuinely transfer to life skills for our students for their futures,” says Principal Todd Miklas. “What Mrs. Perry had done is just that: Her students practice their writing skills in hopes of actually doing something with their work, in contributing to a text that might be published. With the goal of having their words impact or relate to the lives of others and what they have either gone through or are going through. I am so proud of her efforts, their work, and us attending to the true goal of being teachers.”
Perry has taught at Gowanda for a dozen years and typically tries to schedule her poetry unit for April since it’s National Poetry Month and because it also aligns with the America Library of Poetry’s spring submission deadline.
“It’s a nice way to end the unit,” she says.
The published poets, now eighth-graders, are: Aurora Bartlett, Malarie Carroll, Josalyn Degenfelder, Kailyn Farner, Logan Forthman, Jada Geiger, Cole Herman, Tyler Kirkpatrick, Benjamin Krajewski, Rosalee LeBeau, Donovan Lewis, Madison Luder, Drew Shull, Star Stafford, Gaö:wisa:s Stevens, and Gabby Whipple.
Visit www.libraryofpoetry.com for more information and check out a photo gallery that includes the individual poems on our Facebook page.