Making Poetry that Matters

Sara Holbrook

Sara Holbrook

Poetry knows two things: How to be precise and concise.

It summarizes big ideas, predicts, performs, and questions.

Schools have too often looked at poetry as an historical object, a lesson in what was.

We view poetry to be a means to learn about ourselves, our circumstances, our worlds. We put constructing poetry on equal terms with deconstructing poetry and view the resulting poems as artifacts of our learning – learning about language and the world. Poems are living lessons.

Writing poetry is means to finding our finest selves and clarity of communication.

Michael Salinger

Michael Salinger

Both of us supported our poetry habits for years by working in the business world, Sara as a public relations executive and Michael as an engineer. We both have firsthand knowledge of the everyday benefits of being able to put our thoughts into just the right words and how writing poetry enabled us to do just that. Immersing ourselves in the world of education gradually over a period of years, poems, books, readings, school visits, teacher conferences, seminars taught and taken, we have transitioned into being teachers of writing and performance poetry.

Yes, we perform our own poetry. But we view such a showcase as being an open invitation to students to explore the excitement of writing and performing poetry, gently taking them a step or two along in their quest to find and refine their own voices.

“Poetry is not the entire solution to keeping the nation’s language clear and honest, but one is hard pressed to imagine a country’s citizens improving the health of its language while abandoning poetry,” declares Dana Gioia in his seminal text: Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture, Graywolf Press, 1992, p.21.

He urges educators to put a halt to the academic effort to “imprison poetry in an intellectual ghetto.” and puts it on the shoulders of poets and teachers of poetry to “take more responsibility for bringing their art to the public.” He urges performance, the use of modern technologies, candid criticism, and integration with other art forms in order to bust out of academia and back into the effervescent mainstream of communication.

So here we are. Bringing real poetry to students and schools. Real poetry, not just the texts that have passed quality approval standards from an assembly line of critics, but poems that reflect the real experiences of today’s young writers. Real words portraying real ideas. Poetry is powerful language.


“Sara and Michael bring infectious energy and joy leavened with deep knowledge of best practices in literacy to their work with children and teachers.” Ellin Keene – Author of Mosaic of Thought and The Teacher You Want to Be
“Sara and Michael bring magic, and a contagious love of words to both students and teachers alike!” Georgia Heard - Author of Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School More testimonials...