Martín Espada and Carlos Andrés Gómez are part of the diverse pool of poets that comes to Deerfield each year, speaking to our student body. Their visits are, in part, meant to entertain those who attend, but also to enlighten and broaden the interests of students.
“For me, the idea of bringing a poet to campus is about exposing students to a type of language that they don’t hear frequently,” said Dr. Curtis, Head of School. “I would say in our fast-paced world where speed and efficiency are valued, I think it’s important to introduce a type of language that allows students to reflect and to ponder.”
English teacher, Mr. Andy Stallings, sees poetry readings as full of potential resonance for students.
“[It’s] much like the experience that Mr. Gomez recently described… a few students will find that there is something in poetry that speaks directly to them, and causes something to change for them,” said Mr. Stallings.
Mr. Gomez did indeed light a spark for numerous Deerfield students.
“I feel like I’ve had an epiphany. He held my interest during the entire event, and it seriously made me appreciate poetry. I never realized how relatable poems could be,” said Cameron Munn ’17.
Poets who have spoken in past years have similarly affected students.
“I was completely blown away,” stated Gillian O’Connor ’17, when asked about Natasha Trethewey’s reading.
Danny Finnegan ’17, remembers feeling “touched and inspired” after hearing Robert Hass speak.
Though many of the performances have blown students away, some disapprove, finding them boring or difficult to engage in.
“I try to pay attention and really understand the poems, but I just never get what’s going on, so honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the readings,” said Rhyan Brode `17.
According to Dr. Curtis, Ms. Trethewey, Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky and Mr. Espada are all renowned poets, who were selected to speak because of their accomplishments, as most speakers are former poet laureates.
“I wanted to make sure that we were bringing the highest level of poetry possible,” expressed Dr. Curtis. “It’s about inviting students to consider why someone would spend time writing poetry. It’s about the performance.”
The performances have inspired a large number of students to sign up for Mr. Stalling’s senior English class, “Poetry Now!”
“‘Poetry Now!’ has been an English class unlike any other. I’ve come to appreciate poetry in a new way in all its different forms. I’ve especially enjoyed writing an original poem each week,” said Uno Wait ’17.
O’Connor similarly feels that the class has, in addition to the academy events, “opened her eyes to the beauty of poetry.”
The newfound appreciation for poetry shows hope for future performances incorporating student pieces, a sentiment echoed by the english department.
“One hope I have is that, in addition to the large auditorium readings by major established poets, we’ll find room for smaller, optional-attendance readings by, in particular, younger poets,” said Mr. Stallings. Looking into the future, perhaps we can expect this!