Poetry is currently enjoying some well-deserved time in the sun. In 2020, we celebrated a presidential inauguration with a poem by the youngest inaugural poet in US history, Amanda Gorman. We have poets showcasing their work on Instagram and TikTok, showing young people that poetry can be enjoyed anywhere. Young People’s Poetry Day is a wonderful opportunity to continue this trend.

What is this event?

Young People’s Poetry Day is a free, annual event held by the Poetry Foundation to give students all over the world the opportunity to hear a poet read and discuss their work live. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2021, from 12-12:40 p.m. EST.

Who is this event for?

Students in grades 4-8 are encouraged to register for and attend Young People’s Poetry Day. While this year’s activities are best-suited for middle-level students, the Poetry Foundation has numerous virtual events scheduled throughout the year with poets whose work is perfect for both younger and older students.

What will students be doing?

Brightly colored illustration of student hands creating poetry

Artwork by Amber Huff

After registering for Young People’s Poetry Day, students will receive a Zoom link via email to attend the day of the event. Upon admission, they will watch and listen to the poet read and discuss their works. Following the reading, there will be a live Q & A session with the poet and a poetry-based activity for students to complete if they choose. This activity will not require any special materials aside from common household items like pens and paper.

Which poet is presenting?

Poet Marilyn Nelson holding a seashell

Marilyn Nelson, courtesy of Blue Flower Arts

This year’s featured speaker is award-winning poet and children’s book author Marilyn Nelson. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1946, Marilyn is the daughter of an Air Force serviceman and a teacher. She began writing while still in elementary school. Her poems and stories frequently address issues of history, race relations, and feminism. Her often short, imagery-filled poems and writing style have made her accessible and admired by young people everywhere.

Why should I encourage my students to register for Young People’s Poetry Day?

By encouraging your students to register, you can begin making poetry part of a weekly or daily discussion in your classroom. The Poetry Foundation will hold additional readings throughout the year in a series called “Readings for Young People.” Online readings will take place once a month and include poets like Kwame Alexander (October), Jillian Tamaki (November), and Janet Wong (December). This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss poetry regularly in your classroom.

After the online readings, the Poetry Foundation website will post videos from each of the events on their website. This way teachers and students can access them at their convenience. Looking for additional inspiration on how to incorporate poetry in your classroom throughout the year? Check out some of WeAreTeacher’s articles on this topic:

How do my students register for this event?

Photograph of Marilyn Nelson accepting an award at The Poetry Foundation

Marilyn Nelson, courtesy of The Poetry Foundation

A student and/or their family can register on the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poetry Day main information page. Attendees will receive the Zoom link via email before Saturday, September 25, at 12 p.m. EST.

Encourage your students to experience a live poetry reading during Young People’s Poetry Day held by the Poetry Foundation by registering here.

Your Students Are Invited! Young People's Poetry Day with Marilyn Nelson