National Writing Project

NWP Cosponsors National Event Featuring U.S. Poet Laureate

By: NWP Staff
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 11, No. 1
Date: 2006

Summary: Selected student poets will fly to Washington to read at the Celebrating Rural Poetry event, held at the Library of Congress.


U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser

Eight rural writing project sites were awarded minigrants of $3,000 each to create programs in support of the May 8 Celebrating Rural Poetry event in Washington, D.C. This event is cosponsored by the National Writing Project and the Rural School and Community Trust, and is coordinated by the Nebraska Writing Project.

These sites sponsored a variety of activities in their schools and districts to support teachers' developing and offering place-based writing curricula in their classes. Their programs included creating teaching units and poetry tool kits for teachers, providing model lessons in teachers' home schools, and bringing teachers together for writing conferences.

Each site then chose up to ten students to have their poetry published on the Rural School and Community Trust website, and selected one of these young writers to participate in a poetry reading in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. The eight student poets will have all their expenses paid to attend the event, which takes place at the Library of Congress and will be attended by teacher-consultants, families, and some members of Congress.

Writing Project Sites That Received Poetry Minigrants:

  • Coalfield Writers—Satellite of Marshall University Writing Project (WV)
  • National Writing Project of Central Arkansas (AR)
  • Plymouth Writing Project (NH)
  • Upper Peninsula Writing Project (MI)
  • Northwest Inland Writing Project (ID)
  • University of Missouri-Columbia Writing Project (MO)
  • Prairie Lands Writing Project (MO)
  • Nebraska Writing Project (NE)

In addition, each site will host a local poetry event in a form of its own choosing—for example, a public poetry reading, a poetry celebration in conjunction with local radio programming, or the production and public offering of a CD or digital story.

The inspiration for this event was Ted Kooser's appointment as United States Poet Laureate. Kooser, who is the first rural poet laureate in many years, writes about such subjects as a grandmother tossing out dishwater, leaving

a glorious rainbow
with an empty dishpan swinging at
one end

(from "Dishwater")

and walking to work in the winter,

the obsidian
ice on the sidewalk
with its milk white bubbles
popping under my shoes.

(from "Walking to Work")

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