Every two years for the past 20 years, Westfield High School English Department staff and students have attended the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, a celebration of eminent poets of the late 20th and 21st centuries.
“Many of the poets are ones that students know from their classes or from their own reading. There is a mix of well-established poets and up-and-coming ones,” says WHS English teacher David Della Fera who attended the festival on Oct. 19 with fellow English teachers and a group of 14 students. “Our hope is to help students see that poetry is still an important, vital, and living art form and not one relegated to old textbooks. It’s great when students see poets that they know from books and when they discover new voices at the festival.”
Della Fera says students are given the opportunity at the festival to read their own work at open mic events as well as to attend readings, lectures, and question and answer sessions on ten or more separate stages in Newark’s Downtown Arts District.
Festival organizers say the event has drawn 17,000 high school teachers and 42,000 high school students from 42 states since it first began in 1986.