A group of gifted high school students bring poetry to the citizens of New Jersey, via an on-demand poetry stand, where amblers-by can request a poem in any form, on any subject. It’s no simple task.
In the Autumn 2007 issue of American Scholar, Douglas Goetsch amusingly recounts the summer he spent preparing his students to work the stand, supplanting the urge toward indulgent self-expression with the finer points of form and function—and above all, empathy.
“I think of Shakespeare’s open-mindedness, his ability to move between all those different voices with such aptitude,” Goetsch writes. “The poetry stand would require some of that: acceptance of a task no matter what, the assumption of capability, and tremendous empathy.”
The poetry stand reminds us that poetry can speak for everyone, and perhaps should do so more often. Especially those of us just ambling down the street.—Julie Hanus