Poetry-in-Schools

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The Poetry-in-Schools program is one of the many programs for teachers and students offered by the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series. The only such program serving Washington, DC, public school students at the high school level, Poetry-In-Schools strives to introduce students to poetry, encourage new voices, and provide high school students with a college level writing workshop. Poetry-in-Schools is grateful for the support of its sponsors, MARPAT Foundation, Inc., Jacob and Charlotte Lehrman Foundation and Private Contributions.

The program is available at no cost to participating schools. It has so far been offered at Anacostia High School, Eastern High School, Banneker High School, The IDEA Charter School, SEED Public Charter School, Thurgood Marshall Academy, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, and Wilson High School. Still growing, the program serves currently four schools a year and hopes expand to reach all DC public high schools on a biennial basis.

In each DC public high school, Poetry-in-Schools works with a selected English teacher to provide a series of four to six in-class weekly workshops on reading, writing, and listening to poetry, led by a O.B. Hardison Poetry Series educator, a local published poet or scholar. The students compile a book of their own poetry, which Poetry-in-Schools binds and print. At the end of each workshop series, the class receives a visit by one of the nationally acclaimed poets reading in the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series.

Meet poetry educators

  • Reginald Dwayne Betts writes poems. A Cave Canem fellow, his poetry has appeared in several national magazines. He is a Breadloaf Writer's Conference scholarship recipient, a finalist for the 2007 Ruth Lily fellowship and received Honorable Mention for the 2007 Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest. A student on full scholarship at the University of Maryland and at present, Betts works on his debut book of poetry, Shahid Learns to Pray, and has a book deal with Avery/ Penguin for his memoir, A Question of Freedom.
  • Sarah Browning has taught creative writing workshops for children, teens, adults, and seniors in libraries, community centers, prisons, and schools. Her first book of poems, Whiskey in the Garden of Eden, was published by The Word Works in 2007. She is co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology and coordinates the group of the same name. She is the recipient of an individual artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. Browning hosts the Sunday Kind of Love poetry series at Busboys & Poets and is organized the 2008 Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness.
  • Kim Roberts is the author of two books of poems, The Kimnama (Vrzhu Press, 2007) and The Wishbone Galaxy (WWPH, 1994). She edits two online literary journals, the highly acclaimed Beltway Poetry Quarterly, which she founded in January 2000, and The Delaware Poetry Review, which began publication in the summer of 2007. Roberts has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Humanities Council of Washington, and the DC Commission on the Arts, and has been a writer-in-residence at eleven artist colonies throughout the US.

Read student poetry

Silver Circle

Sophia M. Echavarria

A little silver hoop, he didn’t want anything too big, just enough to make a statement.

Metal in a scar still sensitive; like a bullet wound.

In his room with the play station on CD mode stirring out what sounds like Counting Crows, his finger nails make a soft click as he reaches for it testing for pain.

Eyes are lost in its iridescence from countless alcohol swabs, smelling like a new box of staples, a chain link fence.

Slippery and waxy from the oil in his skin puts the bitter taste of metal in my mouth, my teeth hurt.

Feels like I could slide through the hoop, get lost on the other side. Find new facets in which to see myself, my world.

A dictatorship in sterling. A manifesto in gunmetal.


I

I do my best work in the afternoon, that’s usually when I wake up.

Being with people most of the time is important to me because I’ve been bored with myself.

I share easily, if I trust you.

I’m talkative because I want you to remember me.

I like people to like me when I need them.

I value my time when it’s running out.

I have a goal, I think.

I admit my mistakes only when the pride price is low.

I believe the world is wonderful, when it’s not pissing me off.

I respect others, with good reason and evidence.

I believe I control my life, but only its pace.

I can handle any situation, when it’s mine to handle.

I’m okay asking for help, so long as it’s needed desperately.

I have what it takes to succeed when I want to succeed.

I always set priorities, when it’s for someone else.

I “forgive” easily, if I like you.

I believe people are good to me, I can’t always tell, though.

I use technology to help me because it doesn’t judge me.

I can do without friends when I’m dead.

I’m prepared most of the time if I know what’s going on.

I like myself when I’m pretending to be someone else.

I get angry easily when I can’t figure it out. I am confident…until it comes to boys.

I’m a “last minute” person because I work harder under pressure.

I act quickly to resolve a problem that could swallow me up.

I like to try new things, but only with a reference.

I’m shy most of the time because I don’t know you people.

I like to be alone most of the time because you can’t lie to yourself.

I like being late because it flips time the bird.

I’m a good listener, if I like what you’re saying.

I get things done when they’re important to me.

I get along well with most people who don’t have their heads up their asses.

I make my own decisions, when I can.

I know what it takes to succeed; cash.

I plan to finish, down the line.

I feel like I’m a loser when I hit the snooze button.

I believe in a higher being, but not church.

I have a god, sort of.

I communicate well on paper.

I recognize the good in others, in a less shallow mood.

I am motivated, rarely.