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Rekindling our Love of Words

Linda Derezinski, English Department Head

Every April we celebrate National Poetry Month, and at Dana Hall, we truly seize this month to celebrate poetry. It seems fitting that in early spring, in a season of renewal and rebirth, we come together as a community to rekindle our love of words in all their transcendent power.

As we get ready for this celebration every year in March, we in the English Department look at a blank sign-up sheet and quietly wonder, will the students want to share poetry? Do they really treasure the richness and beauty of language to be brave enough to speak in front of the whole school? Again this year, the answer is a resounding yes.

Every large-scale student gathering in April has held a poetry moment. Monday morning Upper School meetings in Waldo, Middle School meetings in the Multi-Purpose Room, All-School Meetings in the Shipley Center gym: all have heard poetry ringing out. English teachers who saw their young poets’ abilities flowering have coaxed and cajoled, and these beautiful poets stood before us, took a deep breath, and read out their lines in clear voices. April 2022 has brought us students reading poems they have translated from their home languages, students sharing poems raw with emotion, and students displaying their polished form. Poems have been honest, sweet, funny, angry, quiet, and raucous; more than once this April, I have been moved to tears first thing in the morning.

Poetry month at Dana Hall can show up in light-hearted ways, too. Magnetic poetry challenges have earned some students tiny cakes; “poetry-in-your-pocket day” will invite us all to carry a favorite or treasured poem around with us to share with anyone who asks.

The hallways and bathroom stalls of Dana Hall are decorated with poems this month; one of them is Linda Pastan’s poem “A New Poet,” which opens with these lines: “Finding a new poet / is like finding a new wildflower / out in the woods.” I am so grateful to have found so many new wildflowers, new poets this month.  

Photo: Two students share their translation of an Octavio Paz poem during Upper School Morning Meeting.