Poetry Friday: Student Poetry Submissions

Today is Poetry Friday. We are headed into the time of year when I really miss writing poetry with students. For six years, I led a Third Grade Writer’s Circle at the elementary school my boys attended. It started when my youngest was in Third Grade; I was trying to support the love he and other students had for writing at the time.

It was a small group of six students, two each from each of the three third grade classrooms. The classroom teachers picked the students; I arrived once a week at the same time to offer a 30 minute block of writing enrichment.  We experimented with many types of writing over the course of the school year. The group usually ran from October until May, allowing for the year to start, the teachers to get to know the students, and, end before all the craziness of an impending summer break.

Our poetry unit ran from the end of January through mid-March. It culminated with the students writing haiku to submit to a published poetry compilation, The Young American Poetry Digest. Over the years, I had over 40 students have their poems accepted to be in this compilation. In the past, the compilation has focused on Haiku.  It appears, according to their submission form,  that this is still the case. Some other forms of poetry are also accepted and published.  We submitted haiku and color poems.  The last year I led the group, I extended the haiku writing to my garden club students. We focused on bees, since that was the unit the garden club had just studied.  Several of them had their poems published as well.

Although the submission process took some time, I felt it was worth it for the students. Having a work accepted and published in a “real book” gave my young writers a sense of pride, accomplishment, and most of all confidence!

I had the students write their haiku on a nature based theme that we decided beforehand, such as wildlife, seasons, weather, or extraordinary events like volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and hurricanes. I edited and checked for the expected syllabic count of 5-7-5.  Work was returned and revised.

Then, when the students had a sufficient amount of poetry written, we reserved a time in the computer lab to type the poems. The students typed their own work. Specific formatting is set forth in the guidelines of the publication. Then, usually right before the deadline, I submitted their poems with the necessary parental releases. There is also an opportunity to buy copies of the book at a fairly affordable price. These make great presents for family members!  Any school that has poems accepted receives a free copy of the compilation from the publisher for their library.

The deadline is usually mid-March each year.  This year, it appears to be the 15th of March. See the link to the submission form above.

Then, the waiting part comes. Before the end of the school year, the students are notified if their poem has been accepted. From my experience, I can tell you that it is rare when a poem is not accepted. The joy on the faces of my students when telling me about receiving their acceptance letter is something I hold dear, and will always remember.

Since today is Poetry Friday, and I am missing my poetry unit with former students, I thought I’d share this information about sending student writing to The Young American Poetry Digest, sponsored by the National Schools Project.  You have time. Submit your students’ poetry writing. You’ll be glad you did!

This week Poetry Friday is hosted by Going to Walden. Thank you for offering a forum to share this wonderful form of writing!

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