Poetry Month & Week: Celebrating Our Student Poets
Poets of James M. Bennett High Shine in Poetry Competitions and Events as Community Prepares for Salisbury Poetry Week
Posted on 03/30/2017
With April being National Poetry Month and the week of March 31-April 6 designated as Salisbury Poetry Week, James M. Bennett High School has plenty of good news to share on its student poets.

James M. Bennett High senior Nick Selser competed March 18 in the 2017 Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Finals and finished third. In 2016-2017, more than 9,300 Maryland students and 250 teachers in 46 schools and 14 counties participated in the Maryland Poetry Out Loud (POL) program, with Selser among the strongest 10 students who advanced through a series of school and regional competitions to reach the Maryland Poetry Out Loud State Finals.

Through the Poetry Out Loud program, students learn about their literary heritage, build self-confidence, and improve their public speaking skills. The 2017 program marks the 12th year of this poetry recitation contest for high school students that is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and The Poetry Foundation, and administered by U.S. state arts agencies across the country. Total Maryland student participation has reached 116,000 over the past 12 years.

James M. Bennett High’s Poetry Out Loud competition team included Selser, Tisha Chakraborty, Zaira Lopez, Yeongju Lee, Jasper Flint, Rehman Liaqat, Roxanne Chow and Rawan Osman, with Poetry Out Loud advisor Joan Cooper.

Chakraborty, a senior who has participated in Poetry Out Loud all four years at JMB, will take her poetry to a new level this week when she participates in a reading at the first Eastern Shore Voices Presents Salisbury Poetry Week March 31-April 6. In honor of National Poetry Month, Salisbury Mayor Jacob Day has officially proclaimed March 31- April 6 Salisbury Poetry Week.

Salisbury Poetry Week will be a celebration of both the written and spoken word through a series of events open to all ages, and free of charge. Poetry is an integral part of our lives from song lyrics to commercials, from scripts to Shakespeare, from love letters to our children’s bedtime stories—poetry is truly at the center of our communicative lives, said Tara Elliott, an English Language Arts teacher at Salisbury Middle, Light of Literacy Luminary Educator award winner, and the driving force behind Salisbury Poetry Week.

On Friday, March 31, from 7-9 p.m. James Arthur, published poet, author, recent Fulbright scholar, and current creative writing professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, will headline the week’s activities of readings and writing workshops. He will give a reading at the Worcester Room of Salisbury University’s Commons (located off Camden Avenue and Dogwood Drive). This reading, Eastern Shore Voices, will also feature seven selected poets from across the Eastern Shore region, with books written by these reader poets available for purchase. One of the poets whom Arthur selected as a reader (from a field that included 26 adult poets) is JMB senior and Salisbury University student Tisha Jasmine (Chakraborty).

More events during Salisbury Poetry Week:

Saturday, April 1 from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Three generational writing workshops will be held at the Centre Branch of the Public Library for all levels of writers, or interested writers.  Rhyme & Poetry for ages 7-10 (11 a.m.-noon), Music & Poetry for ages 11-18 (2-3 p.m.), and Memory & Poetry for ages 60+ (3:30-4:30 p.m.).  These workshops will be guided by visiting poet James Arthur. Preregistration is required, call 410-546-5397.

Sunday, April 2 from 1-3 p.m.: A fun family-friendly event will take place at Headquarters Live. Eastern Shore Kid Voices! – a spoken word poetry event for the kids of the Eastern Shore, will feature Fenix Youth Project, American Music Performance Studio (AMP), performances from the students of Poetry Out Loud!, student poets, and favorite poems for children recited by James Arthur. 

Salisbury Poetry Week events and activities are made possible, by the generous support of Sponsors and Community Partners. This project would not have been possible without major support provided by the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council, awarded by the Maryland State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Other significant funding was provided by The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. 

The list of dedicated Sponsors also includes: Delmarva Public Radio, Headquarters Live!, Maryland Writers Association (MWA): Lower ES Chapter, Courtyard by Marriott, Eastern Shore Writers’ Association (ESWA), Dr. Cathy Townsend, and Beaver Run Elementary PTA. Eastern Shore Voices is grateful for Community Partners’ time and interest in this public project: Salisbury University’s Center for Extended and Lifelong Learning , City of Salisbury Maryland, Salisbury Middle School, Fenix Youth Project (FYP), MAC, Inc. (Maintain Active Citizens), Poetry Out Loud, Salisbury Independent, Wicomico County Public Schools, Wicomico County Public Library (WCPL), American Music Performance Studios (AMP Studios), Saltwater Media, and Friends of the Wicomico Public Libraries.