If you're a teacher and you're wondering how to celebrate National Poetry Month, here's an idea that you can start in March but can take you through April -- a March Madness Poetry Tournament.
The National Council of Teachers of English says:
The idea is to create a basketball tournament-pairing chart like the NCAA does each year in March using poetry and determine a final winner by reading the poems. Choosing the poems and who will read them are the big decisions. Locate 64 poems and pair them off, just like basketball teams. Read two poems each day and let the students vote on the “winner.” Do this until you have a final four and the final winner.
More suggestions from the NCTE regarding selecting the poems:
Locate poems written by poets found in all four compass directions in the US---East, West, North, and South similiar to the basketball brackets.
If 64 is too many, just start at 32, the second round in the 64 field.
Break it into two sections, representing the two sides of the tournament. Poems that are a little "harder" are on one side and "easier" poems on the other.
Create themes for each day of poetry such as death, humor, love, growing up, sports, and others.
What poems would you have in your tournament? What would you pit against each other? For teens, I might use...
* Allow Me to Introduce Myself by Charles R. Smith vs. "I’m A Jazz Singer," She Replied by James A. Emanuel
* Missing by Cynthia Cotten vs. I'm Making You Up by Chrystos
* Did I Miss Anything? by Tom Wayman vs. Totally Like Whatever, You Know? by Taylor Mali
* Prayer to Laughter by Tom Agard vs. If You Had To by Sam Green or Valentine for Ernest Mann by Naomi Shihab Nye
* The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry vs. The Patience of Ordinary Things by Pat Schneider
* I Told You by Ella Wheeler Wilcox vs. The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
* It's all I have to bring today by Emily Dickinson vs. Question by May Swenson
* In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke vs. The Panic Bird by Robert Phillips
* Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa vs. Here, Bullet by Brian Turner
* Quarantine by Eavan Boland vs. Time Does Not Bring Relief by Edna St. Vincent Millay
* Count That Day Lost by George Eliot vs. When You Go Anywhere by William Stafford
More Poetry Ideas for Classrooms
The Iris Chronicles has the Poetry Friday round-up today.