Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring & Poetry in the Air... April is National Poetry Month

By Jess Bouchard, America SCORES Program Manager and resident 'Poet'!

In a fairly isolated part of Burton High School, KALW radio station resides, welcoming in the voices of the San Francisco community. More recently, 18 of our poet-athletes join these voices, as each read their poems over the airwaves in preparation for April, National Poetry Month.

The morning of the event, our students arrived early to the studio, beating SCORES staff because their excitement truly mesmerized these poets and their families.  KALW staff welcomed our early-comers with a similar delight: a common theme throughout the  day, and long after. 

While the waiting room overflowed with SCORES staff and coaches, family, strollers and eager on-lookers, Kevin Vance, Engineer, and Matt Martin, General Manager, gave students their first radio etiquette lessons, teaching them how to recognize proper distance between mouth and microphone (tip: Make a Hawaiian shaka or “hang loose” sign by extending your thumb and pinky, curling the rest of your fingers towards your palm. Now, bring your thumb to your lip and your pinky to the microphone: voila!); and how to be a professional radio reader, paying attention to their voice, breathing, and style.  Not only did the poets get the hang of it, they couldn’t get enough!

As I sat inside the studio with each student during their turn, offering comfort and poetry wisdom, the two of us, poet after poet, felt the magic in that confined glass space. Homages to the color blue were read, “Blue could be the sound of wind,/ It’s like a whisper…” (Sara Trujillo, Leonard Flynn Elementary School), and odes to moms “My mom is not like the rest/ If there is a test of beauty/ She passes every test" (Oscar Martinez, E.R. Taylor Elementary School) — just to remember a couple!  All morning, the beauty of poetry left our lips lingering like fireworks, and we all smiled wider and laughed brighter, understanding the loveliness a profound moment like this offers.

On a personal note, this event was the highlight of my career thus far. Coming to America SCORES after teaching middle school and college English for several years, I can’t pinpoint a moment in those years that mimics the overwhelming utter happiness I felt in those hours. Tune in to KALW 91.7 FM for the entire month of April to catch this special series! You’ll be enchanted, we promise! 

For the daily airwave schedule of our Radio Poets, visit

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