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

Hearing a poet read their poems live makes words come to life.

Sponsored By Poetry Foundation
Brightly colored cartoon of children preparing for Young People's Poetry Day with information about the event.

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 U.S. 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 was held on Saturday, September 25, 2021.

Watch the recording of this live event here: Young People’s Poetry Day with Marilyn Nelson – September 25, 2021

Who is this event for?

Students in grades 4-8 are encouraged to watch the recording of 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

Your students will watch and listen to the poet read and discuss their works, followed by a Q & A session with the poet and a poetry-based activity for students to complete if they choose. This activity does not require any special materials aside from common household items like pens and paper.

Which poet presented?

Poet Marilyn Nelson holding a seashell

Marilyn Nelson, courtesy of Blue Flower Arts

This year’s featured speaker was 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 watch this Young People’s Poetry Day event?

By encouraging your students to watch (or watching it together with your class), you can begin making poetry part of a weekly or daily discussion in your classroom. The Poetry Foundation held additional readings throughout the year in a series called “Readings for Young People” that are also available for download, like this one of Jillian Tamaki. This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss poetry regularly in your classroom.

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:

Encourage your students to experience the live poetry reading that took place during Young People’s Poetry Day held by the Poetry Foundation by watching the recording here.

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