Packed with Poetry

I love the month of April!  In Texas it means the beautiful wildflowers are in full bloom, in San Antonio Fiesta is colorful celebration of everything SA,  nationally it's School Library Month, and  Poetry Month!  So many wonderful celebrations, but today I'd like to share with you the various ways our library will be celebrating Poetry Month to perhaps generate ideas for your own celebration.

To kick-off our celebration I am partnering with a fantastic arts organization in San Antonio known as Urban15. On April 2, 2018 the Mega Corazon division of Urban15 will live-stream performance poetry from 1pm-9pm, with a special youth focus from 1:00-4:00pm.  The poets featured include Carmen Tafolla, Naomi Shahib Nye, John Phillip Santos, and many talented performance poets from the San Antonio area.  This event is available FREE to anyone who would like to view these performances.  Bookmark this link, so you can watch the performances live:  Last year, I had this stream running the entire afternoon in our library and was impressed with how many students stopped to listen.  It truly is the easiest way to introduce performance poetry to students and the talent featured is amazing!

Another feature of the Mega Corazon poetry celebration is the free poetry writing workshops. These 90 minute workshops features Anthony "The Poet" Flores, a three time Grand Slam Poetry Champion.  If you are in or near the San Antonio area, please consider making room for this event. I am asking our English teachers to nominate 3-5 students who are interested in writing poetry to attend the workshop and the students are thrilled! If you are interested in these workshops, please contact Marisol Cortez at to arrange one on your campus.

I am lucky enough to be a mentor to two teachers working on the MLIS this year and they have partnered with me to create some great no-tech maker spaces to play with poetry.  Here's some of what we have planned:

  • Wall of Poetry  We are writing out a poem on colorful butcher paper that will enclose the library. Last year we had it on the outside of our library so anyone walking by could read "One day" by Richard Blanco.  Due to construction, this year the poem will surround the interior walls of the library. This was a favorite feature last year.
  • Blackout Poetry bookmarks - using pages from weeded books, we will feature a bookmark making station.  Hoping they will turn out as cute as these.
  • Poetry Vitamins - this is a small take on Poem in Your Pocket day.  We will feature short verses on colorful paper, curl up the paper and place them in bowls around the library, so everyone can have their daily dose of poetry.
Poetry Vitamins
  • MadLib Poetry - for this station we will create a mad-lib style poem based off  a selection of poems from I Could Chew On This by Francesco Marciuliano.  This book will be featured near our station so students can read these wonderful poems. Based on the test group, this is going to bring lots of laughs!
  • Magnetic Poetry - similar to the refrigerator magnets, we create our own magnetic words to be put together in creative ways to form quick poems on our two magnetic white boards.  I always see some creative work in this station!
  • LibraryLounge - at the conclusion of the month we are hosting an open mic night in the library, featuring the students who attended the poetry writing workshop AND Anthony Flores will again join us to see the students read/perform the pieces they started during the workshop.  Can't wait for this event!
A few other activities are in the works, but I can't wait to begin this month-long celebration and share it with our staff and students. What about you?  I'd love to hear your ideas for Poetry Month!

Because Libraries Make Leaders

By Dorcas Hand, School Library Advocate, www.studentsneedlibrariesinHISD ; ALA Councilor-at-Large; Editor, TASLTalks with inspiration from Jim Neal

ALA President Jim Neal posted an article on the Libraries Transform site a few months back, a piece I noted because of the title. Recently, I have told you in this blog about why I think the Libraries Transform advocacy platform is so useful to school librarians in Texas, but rediscovering Neal’s piece reminded me of yet another reason: libraries are the place and their certified librarians the human catalysts to inspire students to follow their curiosity into new fields of interest, and then to build that learning into a comprehensive body of knowledge that allows these children to become engaged adults ready to lead their communities. 

In my TASLTalks blog of Feb. 14, Libraries Transform – Especially when Speaking with One Voice, I noted the usefulness of the four basic messages – but in today’s post, the key is “Libraries Transform Lives.” It is through the students we impact that we can transform communities, support lifelong learning and be that smart investment of the other three messages. And that “we” is the certified school librarians who work with Texas students in school libraries state-wide every day. I cannot say it enough: we who are school librarians matter deeply to the success of our students, our schools and cumulatively our state.

As spring begins here in Texas, I want to remind you all to take full advantage of all the tools you have at a click of your computer:

Libraries make Leaders. And we Librarians must be leaders. We need to demonstrate to our campus leadership how libraries are essential to student achievement. We need to demonstrate to our teachers how collaboration can strengthen their classroom projects and topics. And we need to show our students the infectious excitement of following curiosity where it leads (there’s that word again!), to learn more and more about our world, their world for many years to come.

I hope to see many of you at conference, but watch here in TASLTalks to find articles about programs and award winners you might have missed. Leaders are always learning. Libraries make leaders by supporting lifelong learning.