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Dot students will join Bay State peers at student poetry event at UMass Boston

This Saturday, getting a jump on April, National Poetry month, Dorchester middle and high schoolers will be joining their peers from across the state for a Student Day of Poetry (SDOP) at UMass Boston. Among the Dot schools participating in the day-long event are City on a Hill II Public Charter School, Mother Caroline Academy, as well as the BPS’s Harbor and McCormack schools.

This gathering will mark the second time that event organizer Mass Poetry, a non-profit dedicated to supporting poets and poetry across the commonwealth, has presented a SDOP on Columbia Point, having held the inaugural SDOP there before rotating to Salem State and MIT. Mass Poetry sees its purpose as helping “ to broaden the audience of poetry readers, bring poetry to readers of all ages, and transform people’s lives through inspiring verse.”

Saturday’s event is being run by Mass Poetry Program Director Laurin Macios, who manages year-round programs, including Student Day of Poetry both in and out of schools. “The Student Day of Poetry,” she says, “is Massachusetts’s day-long poetry field trip offering performances and creative writing workshops for teens by celebrated national and local poets, followed by a student open mike. We’ve got something for everyone, from sonnets to spoken word and everything in between — for the student who isn’t sure they even like poetry to the senior who leads the after-school poetry club.”

During the SDOP, Macios explains, the students “get to soak up performances by celebrated national and regional poets who will undoubtedly blow their socks off and show them that poetry is not only alive, but vibrant, meaningful, and even accessible.”

The basic outline of the SDOP follows this format: workshops, lunch, performances, and then, as the big finish, the open mike. This year like last, however, will also feature a poetry sampler at the beginning of the day, which Macios says will allow attendees “to experience a mini-performance of sorts before they head to their workshops.”

“Our 2014 line-up is so star-studded you’d think we’re astrologers.” Macios jokes. “We are thrilled to announce that Adam Gottlieb, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Jamele Adams ,aka Harlym 1two5, and Phil Kaye and Franny Choi from Project V.O.I.C.E. will be taking the stage as well as leading workshops.”

Gail Winsor, a teaching fellow at Blue Hill Avenue’s Mother Caroline Academy, told the Reporter, “This will be the first year our school is participating in the Mass Student Day of Poetry, but we have had spoken word events at the school in years past and always hold school- wide events for poetry month during the month of April. 

According to student surveys, as a direct result of another Mass Poetry program, the in-school Student Day of Poetry, the number of students interested in reading poetry increased from 34 percent to 70 percent, and the number of students interested in writing poetry increased from 44 percent to 65 percent. Mass Poetry has not yet held an in-school SDOP in any of the participating Dot schools, but, she notes, “If we make enough at our upcoming fundraiser on March 31, that will bolster our work (in-school SDOPs) at schools that can’t normally afford it. We hope to be able to donate that work to inner city schools soon.”