Thursday, October 06, 2016

WWU Poetry Camp

Last weekend I had the time of my life steeped in poetry with 150 other people who love it as much as I do. On October 1, Western Washington University’s PoetryCHaT center was the proud host of “Poetry Camp 2016,” the first-ever national conference dedicated solely to poetry for children and teens. Nearly forty children's poets, including the first Children’s Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky, came from Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Washington, DC, Wisconsin, and even Canada and Japan to join teachers, librarians, and poetry fans in a day packed with sessions on poetry performance, writing techniques, curricular connections, and s’more(s). These were the participating poets:




















The Friday before Poetry Camp, Janet (Wong) and I spent the day with the 38 poets meeting one another (many for the first time), getting acquainted, chatting informally, and engaging in lively discussions about the value of performing poetry out loud while honoring those who prefer quiet reading or savoring visuals. We had several guest speakers including Kathy Humphrey on using social media effectively, Paige Bentley Flannery on school and library visits, Michael Salinger and Sara Holbrook on conference presentations and Julie Larios on poetry writing tools and techniques. The camaraderie and energy was something to behold! Then in the evening, poet and artist Robyn Hood Black led a Makerspace workshop that was so fun and inspiring. 


Saturday was the BIG day of Poetry Camp and Janet and I led two keynote talks and featured all the 38 poets reading their own poetry in rapid fire succession. The audience was so thrilled to hear so much poetry read by the poets who wrote it! In between everyone chose three sessions to attend all led by poets on a wonderful variety of topics including: playing with sound, playing with visuals, metaphor and simile, verse novels, poetry performance, writing for journals, publishing anthologies, blogging about poetry, and poetry and STEM, as well as grammar, social studies, movement, art, and music. I wish I could have sat in EVERY session! I rotated through to take photos and they all seemed marvelous!


Then at the end of the day, the first Children's Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky performed his poetry (singing and yodeling and shouting along with his guitar) to an audience of all ages that was completely enthralled! Two groups of children had also prepared dramatic readings of Prelutsky's poetry and they did such a great job-- complete with motions and humor!


The organizers of PoetryCHaT’s Poetry Camp 2016 were Sylvia Tag and Nancy Johnson:
Sylvia Tag is Librarian/Associate Professor and curator of the WWU Libraries Children’s Literature Interdisciplinary Collection.
Nancy Johnson is Professor in the English Department, specializing in children’s and young adult literature and English/language arts education.
They did an amazing job in organizing this fantastic event and emceeing throughout the day!

What is PoetryCHaT? 
A collection of resources, ideas, and curricula designed to help poets and educators share their love of poetry with children and teens. The WWU PoetryCHaT Children & Teen Poetry Collection includes a growing collection of materials written and published since 1920 for children and teens, birth through age 20. PoetryCHaT sponsors programs, special events, and readings that celebrate poetry. Their inaugural programming this past spring featured poet Kwame Alexander.

Press coverage included a local television station airing more than one hour of video clips of poet readings. You can see a summary of the day’s activities at the Poetry CHaT site and can see more photos on the Poetry CHaT Facebook site. 

My favorite photo was of all 38 poets and me standing on the library steps. What a beautiful, generous, smart, funny, and lovable group! What a treat to meet all these writers whom I admire and spend time together laughing and learning!



I also enjoyed meeting this week's Poetry Friday host, Violet Nesdoly at Poetry Camp! And just now as I looked for her link, I saw that she is also sharing her experiences at Poetry Camp! So check out more photos and comments there. She's done a marvelous job capturing the joy and energy and personalities too!

And I found more posts about Poetry Camp that are worth visiting. Here are the links and if there are more I haven't seen yet, please let me know. Thanks, y'all!

Poetry Camp Follow Up Blog Posts







Bridget Magee

Peg Cheng

Julie Larios

Cynthia Grady

Robyn Hood Black

Jone Rush MacCulloch

JoAnn Early Macken

Greg Pincus

P.S. I keep getting questions about my poetry-themed outfits (which is fun!), so let me provide info here for anyone who is interested.

For my dress, I had the blue "Share Poetry" fabric printed at PersonalizedFabric2.com (app. $15 per piece of fabric with a Groupon and I bought 2 pieces). Then I made those two pieces into a simple shift dress. The tights are from Etsy.com. ColineDesign will print anything you like on tights and I sent her poems from our Poetry Friday Anthology (PFA) series. They're pricey (app. $35), but they are really well made and mine have been worn and laundered multiple times. Now, I've ordered some more of each, so watch for more clothes and tights in the future! FYI: I also wore a large custom poetry scarf that I had printed with poems (again from the PFA books) on Friday and that was made at Mailpix.com (for about $30 with another Groupon). Now you know ALL my secrets!  Also, I'm working on MORE of these too... so stay tuned! 

19 comments:

Sally Murphy said...

Sounds like an amazing weekend, Sylvia. reading through the various posts about it makes me wish I could have been there - I've never been to an event remotely like this in Australia. Maybe next time it runs I'll jump on a plane!

Liz Steinglass said...

Sylvia--It was a pleasure to meet you. The weekend was spectacular down to the tiniest detail. You and Janet clearly made the case for poetry every day in every class. Yes, let's do it again!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks for stopping by, you two. I would LOVE to meet you, Sally. I was thrilled to meet several NZ poets at the IBBY Congress in Auckland in August. Let's make it happen someday soon.
And thank you, Liz, for your kind words about our amazing weekend-- and for coming and being part of the amazing-ness!
So fun to celebrate poetry with poets and poetry lovers! What a privilege!

Doraine Bennett said...

Thank you so much, Sylvia, for this remarkable weekend. I can't tell you how much it meant to me to be there.

Linda B said...

I do love that final picture too, Sylvia. What a grand weekend, and now memory to keep with you.

Carol-Ann Hoyte said...

Sylvia, thanks for posting about the amazing weekend of which I had the honour and privilege to take part. It would be great if you could list Canada in your list of places from which the featured poets since I was the only poet representing my country. How energizing, informative, insightful, and inspiring it was to be immersed in poetry for young people over the course of two days! Thank you again for the role you played in making Poetry Camp happen.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Wow, Sylvia. What a treat to see so many photos and hear about the event from many different perspectives today and last week via FB! I'm holding out for Poetry Camp II. :)

Jane @ raincitylibrarian.wordpress.com said...

Oh, I am absolutely green with envy, what an incredible experience! In all seriousness, though, I'm so glad to see so many educators and librarians sharing their love of poetry and inspiring themselves to share poetry with young people in exciting new ways. Beautiful stuff.

Penny Parker Klostermann said...

Thanks for sharing photos and information about Poetry Camp! It sounds amazing!

Violet Nesdoly said...

Thank you, Sylvia! You and Janet (and Sylvia Tag and Nancy J.) did such a marvelous job of putting this day (and weekend) together! I love how in so many of my photos, you're standing in the background, smiling like a proud mama (I know you were there to hand over the mic, but the happy and proud expression on your face gave me the warm fuzzies.) I also loved your poetry dress and leggings. Too clever!

Patricia Toht said...

What a wonderful weekend, Sylvia! There's nothing like time with poets to make one's heart sing. Thanks to you, Janet, Sylvia Tag, and Nancy for pulling off this amazing event. I'm so happy to have been included.

katswhiskers said...

This blows me away. What a fabulous day it obviously was, for all of you. I so wish I could have been there, and met all the familiar names and shared the poetry buzz and love. (So wonderful to put names to faces in Violet's post.)

I love your poetry dress!! Did you make/print it? Or did you stumble on such a perfect little number? And I'm guessing there are words (a poem, even?) on your stockings - which is beyond amazing. #love

Sylvia Vardell said...

Hey, thank you all for coming and commenting. I was torn about posting about Poetry Camp because not everyone could attend, but I hope you all felt like you were there in spirit. I know I like to celebrate poetry anywhere anytime with everyone, so I like reading about poetry events held elsewhere. And if you WERE there (Carol-Ann, Patty, Violet, Liz), then THANK YOU for all you shared! And thank you, Carol-Ann, for reminding me about including Canada. DONE! So sorry for that omission.

Yes, I specialize in poetry clothing! ;-) I had the blue "Share Poetry" fabric printed at PersonalizedFabric2.com (app. $15 per piece of fabric with a Groupon and I bought 2 pieces). Then I made those two pieces into a simple shift dress. The tights are from Etsy.com. ColineDesign will print anything you like on tights and I sent her poems from our Poetry Friday Anthology (PFA) series. They're pricey (app. $35), but they are really well made and mine have been worn and laundered multiple times. Now, I've ordered some more of each, so watch for more clothes and tights in the future! FYI: I also wore a large custom poetry scarf that I had printed with poems (again from the PFA books) on Friday and that was made at Mailpix.com (for about $30 with another Groupon). Now you know ALL my secrets!

Here's to celebrating, promoting, and sharing poetry in every possible way!
Sylvia

Diane Mayr said...

If Sally plans on traveling from Australia for Poetry Camp II (is one being planned?), I can certainly start saving for a trip from New Hampshire. I appreciate your report!

jone said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sylvia for all the work you and Janet put in plus those at WWU. I plan to make a print of all us poets for my writing room. Am working on a post. Last week was crazy.

Brenda Harsham said...

I love how vibrant and colorful children's poetry is through Poetry Friday and through you and Janet. I wish I had stuck with poetry as a teen, but I am enjoying my re-entry very much. I wish I could have been there.

Robyn Hood Black said...

What a glorious post, Sylvia - and what an AMAZING feat of magic you, Janet, Sylvia T., and Nancy conjured up in that gorgeous place. Thank you for everything. (I also look forward to catching up on all these posts; thanks for sharing here. I'd planned to pen one myself, but we returned home last Mon. night and then on Tues. our Governor announced evacuations to start Wed.! Hoping to get home tomorrow. ;0) )

Carol Varsalona said...

Sylvia, thanks for reporting out about Poetry Camp. Each post I read makes me know that this experience was a great one for each person who attended. I keep saying that I should have been a fly on the wall. Maybe someday in the future you will have a camp experience on the East Coast. I look forward to seeing you at NCTE16.

katswhiskers said...

I love your poetry secrets, Sylvia. Thanks for sharing. You've inspired me to rethink wardrobe possibilities. :)