Bringing More Poetry into High School: The Nation's Poet Laureate Launches an Ambitious Program to Bring More Verse into Classrooms. (We Hear from Readers)

Article excerpt

From the Library of Congress:

U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins has launched a new Web site, called Poetry 180, designed to encourage the appreciation and enjoyment of poetry in America's high schools. The site, poetry/180/, is featured on the Library of Congress's home page. The Poet Laureateship is an appointed office within the Library of Congress's Scholarly Programs Office.

The site contains the text of 180 poems Mr. Collins has selected (one for each day of the school year), suggestions for different ways to present a poem in a school setting, and also guidance on how to read a poem aloud.

Most of the poems presented on the site were written by contemporary American authors and were selected with a high school audience in mind. The poems were chosen to be accessible upon first hearing, although students may wish to download them from the Web site for later reading.

"The idea behind Poetry 180 is simple--to have a poem read each day to the student bodies of American high schools across the country," Mr. Collins says. "Hearing a poem every day, especially well-written, contemporary poems that students do not have to analyze, might convince students that poetry can be an understandable, painless, and even eye-opening part of their everyday experience."

A message from Mr. Collins on the site "to the high school teachers of America" urges them to select someone to read the poem to the school each day, perhaps at the end of daily announcements over a public address system or by teachers in their individual homerooms. "The hope," writes Mr. Collins, "is that poetry will become a part of the daily life of students in addition to being a subject that is part of the school curriculum."

There is no particular order in which the poems should be presented, nor is it necessary that all schools read the same poem each day. "The poems have been chosen with high school-age students in mind, but if you feel a certain poem inappropriate," Mr. …