Newark Public Schools Students Attend the Largest Poetry Event in North America

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival was held in Newark’s downtown Arts District for the fourth time since 2010

[Newark, NJ – October 28, 2016] Students from Newark Public Schools (NPS) attended High School Day at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, the largest poetry event in North America, held in Newark, New Jersey. For four days, Newark’s vibrant downtown Arts District was transformed into a poetry village featuring some of the most celebrated, diverse and vibrant poets and spoken word artists in the city. Over 5,000 students registered for this day, in addition to hundreds of other chaperones, teachers, and general attendees.

“We are so fortunate the Dodge Poetry Festival has found its home in Newark,” said Christopher D. Cerf, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “It is a privilege for our city to host this exciting and distinguished cultural event that gives Newark Public Schools students access to some of the world’s greatest poets.”

Students from Malcolm X Shabazz, East Side, Science Park, Barringer STEAM, American History, Bard High School Early College Newark, Arts High School, Barringer Academy of the Arts and Humanities, Weequahic and Central High School all participated in High School Students Day. High School Student Day gives participating students a chance hear from poets from diverse backgrounds who offer perspective on the world that is unlike anything they’ve previously experienced.

Throughout the day there were a variety of events available for students, including readings, sessions, storytelling, musicians and discussions with over 60 poets, from our most celebrated to some of the most promising and engaging younger poets—including Festival poets Martín Espada, Claudia Rankine, Billy Collins and Elizabeth Alexander who took the stage at Prudential Hall in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and other partner venues throughout downtown Newark.

“Margaret El, Special Assistant for the Arts for Newark Public Schools, was our champion,” said Ysabel Y. Gonzalez, Assistant Director at the Dodge Poetry Program. “We are thankful for her support, along with all of the NPS principals, vice principals, and teachers who created an opportunity for NPS students to meet contemporary poets. They made a statement by bringing high school students to the Festival: poetry and the arts are crucial for our kids’ development and growth as young citizens in America. They experienced poetry as relevant, accessible and exciting!”

High School Student Day is free to all students and chaperones—and this year, the Victoria Foundation made it possible for Newark Public High Schools to attend by covering the costs of bus transportation. In addition, several Festival poets visited three NPS high schools, including Barringer STEAM, Malcolm X Shabazz, and Central High School.

The Festival is held every two years, and the Dodge Poetry Program offers poet visits after and leading up to the next Festival. Email to coordinate your school’s poet visit, or visit for more information.