Expanding Perspectives: Exposing Students to Cultural Resources in NYC


Fifty 10th graders from Bronx Envision Academy and thirty-five 5th graders from P.S./M.S. 279 visited Poets House this spring. Education Director and Poet, Mike Romanos, gave some history and explained that Poets House is a free resource for the public.

Poets House offers free field trips to its one-of-a-kind 50,000-volume poetry library. Students have a chance to read and write poetry in a light-filled literary archive in lower Manhattan.

“Students see that poetry is a living art,” says Mr. Romanos. “That it is connected to music, art, dance, and everything in between. Students can see and pick up poetry books from every corner of the earth and sit and write in a shrine to poetry overlooking the Hudson River. There’s nothing like it to inspire and jumpstart students to read and write on their own after a visit.”

Mr. Romanos spent the first part of one visit responding to questions from students: 

“Where do poet’s get their inspiration?”  

“How do poet’s make money?” 

“What is the oldest poem?”

CWP students explored the library and chose books of poetry for a “found poetry” activity. They were asked to chose a line from a poet’s work and use it to inspire their writing.

Inspired by the beginning of a found line, “Spring breeze…” and the view of the park outside, a 5th grade student wrote:

Spring breeze
feels good on my knees
let’s me know when
summer comes to blow

Summer trees
full of leaves
when they go
fall will start to blow

Fall leaves
come off the trees
blow away
Winter has come to stay

Winter snow
comes and goes
but when it melts
I will know

Spring breeze
has come back to go

One student asked about internships and was soon making an appointment to interview for a summer position.  Classroom Teacher, Daria Peninigton’s responded, “I can’t believe my student just asked that!”

Another student, sitting by the window overlooking the Hudson, flipped through a collection of work by Willie Perdomo. He paused, looked up and said, “So this is what it’s like to be in college.”

How do we ensure that NYC kids benefit from living in one of the cultural capitals of the world? How do we get them excited to explore the variety of cultural destinations? How do we get them excited to visit libraries, museums, theatres, and gardens? How do we overcome the obstacles to enjoying our cultural riches?