On February 14th, Glen Allen had its first poetry café of the 2017-2018 school year. All students were invited to attend in the library during J-Step for snacks, entertainment, and a chance to share their work with an enthusiastic audience.
Created by English teacher Mr. Tolbert, the poetry café is a way for students to have freedom of expression and an outlet for their creativity while simultaneously being introduced to new styles of writing and developing their writing skills.
Glen Allen’s Literary Magazine also helped create and host the event, members bringing in food and organizing the event. Additionally, all students who submitted and/or read their poetry were urged to submit their creation to the Literary Magazine to potentially be published in the 2017-2018 edition. This year’s Literary Magazine theme is “UnchARTed.”
Each month will be centered around a certain format of poetry, this month being villanelles. Villanelles are nineteen-line poems with two repeating rhymes and two refrains. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately in the last lines of the succeeding stanzas and, in the final stanza, the refrain serves as the poem’s two concluding lines. However, students were also welcome to share poems that did not revolve around this particular structure, and many did.
Students and teachers around the school showed their support for the poetry café. Students, particularly those part of the Literary Magazine, enthusiastically advertised the event to students. Additionally, many teachers offered students extra credit opportunities to create poems and share them at
the poetry café. Mr. Tolbert offered extra credit to his English classes if they created and presented a villanelle at the event. Similarly, Spanish teacher Ms. Lemco allowed her AP Spanish V students to write poems (an English and Spanish translation) and present them at the café for extra credit, which added to the diversity and enrichment of the event, as well as the fun.
Plans are already in the work for next month’s poetry reading, the “poem of the month” being sonnets. Sonnets are poems with fourteen lines that follow any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, and typically follow iambic pentameter (ten syllables per line) All students are welcome and urged to participate, sonnet or otherwise!