The “poetry cafe” in Briarcliff has been nurturing an interest in the literary form….
One day over the winter, Briarcliff Middle School teachers Sue Mauriello and Eileen Gallagher and teaching assistant Christine Fiori decided to transform a sixth-grade classroom into a “poetry café,” providing the school with a place where students could read and write original poetry, practice critical listening and offer one another constructive feedback about their works and analyses of other works.
The café concept wasn’t purely out of the blue, but rather the culmination of a four-week unit of study on poetry in which students researched famous poets, studied models of poetic techniques and devices (e.g., allegories, alliteration, connotation, metaphors, etc.), brainstormed ideas for original works, and wrote their own free verse poems with no rhyme, theme or particular structure necessary. Many of the students even submitted their poems for consideration in the school’s literary magazine.
Student-driven topics shared in the café ranged from “I Hear America Singing” and “The Beach” to “Ice Cream Flavors.” As each student recited original verses to their fellow classmates, peers listened attentively, inquired about their inspiration of the poem and praised each other.
“I was impressed by the way the students employed poetic devices in such a sophisticated manner,” said Ms. Gallagher.