Dodge Poetry Festival 2018


Leah Cussen, Editor-in-Chief

For the fifth time in the last ten years, The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival took place in Newark, NJ’s bustling Arts District. Students of Ward Melville and other high schools in the tristate area were invited to attend “High School Student Day,” one out of the program’s four days that allows teenagers of all different backgrounds and lifestyles to connect with poetry.

On the morning of Friday October 19th, Ward Melville’s students awaited the buses that would begin their three-hour ride to Dodge. After their arrival, the students listened to a talk by Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, where she discussed an array of topics, including how she manages her emotions through writing.

Senior Lexi Sullivan reflects on her time at this year’s festival, saying, “This was my second year going and it was more amazing than the first. The first year was when I met my best friends so we came back to be like, ‘This is where we met’… but this time, I got to meet Sandra Cisneros and get a book signed by her, so I’m kind of still in fangirl mode and freaking out a little.”

After the performance by Cisneros, the students then split up into groups where they attended different sessions throughout the remainder of the day. The festival offered programs relating to poetry and democracy, the environment, identity, and many more subjects.

One of the more popular events among the students on the trip was the conversation between Jericho Brown and Krista Tippett in a program titled “What Is Found There: Poetry and On Being.” In response to hearing Brown read and discuss some of his works, junior Natalia Newton says, “My favorite was Jericho Brown because he was really cool and everything he said was really captivating, so I’m probably going to be inspired to write a little bit on the bus.”

While the event only runs every other year, it is a great opportunity for those interested in writing and discussing how it relates to the world around them. Junior Erin Zipman says, “It was a lot cooler than I thought it would be because it was really authentic talking about poetry and not just like, ‘Let’s read poems.’ It’s like, ‘What is poetry’s place in our lives and why is it important and how [has] it impacted these people?’”