The Dodge Poetry Festival

In late October, I was lucky enough to attend 3 days out of 4 for the 30th Anniversary of the Dodge Poetry Festival (the largest poetry festival in North America).

One my favorite aspects of Dodge is hearing from poets I didn’t know before. When Mahogany Browne read her poem about the skating rink, I knew it was one I wanted to bring back to my students.

Perhaps I should have taken more detailed notes but here were some things that stood out to me.

Billy Collins spoke about the “traces of dragon smoke” or mystery of poems. I really loved that image. His recommendation for how to discuss poems with students included looking at how a poem moves, how we can follow it as a set of maneuvers because it shifts points.

Li-Young Lee proclaimed that “Reading is the deepest form of love.” He also spoke about how he believes “Poems should inspire action, not just more poems.”

“Silence is a syllable of speech.” – Jane Hirshfield

“When we read poetry, we read differently.” – Jane Hirshfield.

If you are able to attend the next festival, I would highly recommend it. Teachers get professional development hours. You can even register to bring students on Student Day for free. If you are unable to come to the festival, try to attend some of their other teacher events, like “Clearing the Spring, Tending the Fountain.” This is also a free opportunity (except if you choose to attend the Common Gathering). I have heard many teachers shy away from exploring poetry with their students. The events at Dodge are a great way to learn more and gain resources to bring back to your classroom.

What are some of your favorite poems and poets? Specifically, ones that are great to share with students.


Below are the sessions I chose to attend.

Thursday’s Schedule (Teacher Day):

  1. Welcome and Poets on Poetry (Laureates for Teachers): Billy Collins
  2. Poets on Poetry: Li-Young Lee
  3. Poets for Teachers: Fatimah Asghar, Rickey Laurentiis, and Safiya Sinclair
  4. Poets on Poetry: Martin Espada

Saturday’s Schedule:

  1. In Praise: Martin Espada, Mahogany L. Browne, Parkington Sisters, and the Newark Boys Chorus
  2. Washing in Clear Water – Asian Poetry in America: Marilyn Chin, Robert Hass, Jane Hirshfield, Li-Young Lee, Gary Snyder
  3. Poet’s Forum – The Poetic Line: Mark Doty, Linda Gregerson, Jane Hirshfield, and Arthur Sze.
  4. Main Stage Readings: Li-Young Lee and Tim Seibles

Sunday’s Schedule:

  1. From Homer to Hip-Hop – Poetry and the Oral Traditon: Fatimah Asghar, Martin Espada, Li-Young Lee, Tim Seibles, and Safiya Sinclair
  2. I, Too Sing America – Poetry and Race: Marilyn Chin, Juan Felipe Herrera, Brenda Hillman, Claudia Rankine, and Vijay Seshadri
  3. Tribute to Galway Kinnell: Billy Collins, Martin Espada, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, Mirah Kozodoy, and Tim Seibles
  4. Main Stage Readings: Billy Collins, Robert Hass, Jane Hirshfield, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Gary Snyder




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