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Dear Poet Project

National Poetry Month is a registered trademark of the Academy of American Poets.

Dear Poet Project Print

In April 2013, during National Poetry Month, the Academy of American Poets celebrated the role that correspondence has played in poets' development and writing lives.

In the spirit of Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, in which Rilke replies to letters from a young military cadet and aspiring poet asking for his advice, we invited students to engage with poetry by reading the poems below from some of the poets who serve on the Academy's Board of Chancellors and handwriting letters to the poets in response to the poems.

We are so thankful to the hundreds of students and teachers who sent us letters for our Chancellors. While we are no longer accepting letter submissions, we are delighted to share some of the students' letters and poets' responses. We hope that teachers will continue to use the lesson plan version of the Dear Poet Project in their classrooms.

Poems from Academy of American Poets Chancellors

Latin & Soul by Victor Hernández Cruz
Cherry Blossoms by Toi Derricotte
Broadway by Mark Doty
[Where do words come from?]
   by Vénus Khoury-Ghata,
   translated by Marilyn Hacker
You and I Belong in This Kitchen
   by Juan Felipe Herrera
Fall by Edward Hirsch
A Hand by Jane Hirshfield
Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye
Nothing in That Drawer by Ron Padgett
This Bridge, Like Poetry, is Vertigo
   by Marie Ponsot
Comet Hyakutake by Arthur Sze
Fast-Speaking Woman by Anne Waldman

For Classrooms

Lesson Plan: Letters to Poets
We are happy to present a version of the Dear Poet project for teachers of students in grades 7-10 that has been prepared by a curriculum specialist and aligns with core-curriculum standards. Here you'll find activities that encourage students to explore poems by historical and contemporary poets through discussions of voice and an exercise including the practice of letter writing.

Letter Gallery

   Letter from Ella G.    Anne Waldman's
   Letter from Kaitlyn G.    Toi Derricotte's
   Letter from Lylla Y.    Naomi Shihab
   Nye's Response
   Letter from Zachary
   Ron Padgett's
   Letter from Luisa B.    Naomi Shihab
   Nye's Response
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