Poetry in Education

Poetry opens students to their own knowledge and to the subtleties in the world around them. Poetry is letting in more than you know you know. Or as Emily Dickinson says: Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.



The very first poetry workshop I led was called “panic free poetry workshop.”

The job of an apple is to be handed over in orchards, to be wanted and forbidden.
— excerpt from 'The Job of an Apple'

It offered students in a Toronto high school a way to write inspired by language and themes relevant to their lives. (My poem The Job of an Apple is published in the text book Viewpoints 11 and has been across Canada as a jumping off point for students' writing.) Since then I have offered workshops across Canada and abroad and taught the “Personal Narrative” course at The University of Toronto School of Continuing Education.

In 2008 I developed the Poet in Community at The University of Toronto, still going today. The program uses creative writing to address the needs, passions and interests of students, offering a space that's not as formal as a classroom, or as casual as a cafe. It's a learning experience without evaluation. There's no teacher and no boss. Students can connect the intellectual with the emotional, the physical and the social. It is modelled after the Walt Whitman lines: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes."
I've been a guest lecturer at McMasters, Ryerson, and Lakehead University as well as U of T in the faculties of Nursing, Medicine, Nutrition, Social Work, and Engineering. I can lead workshops via remote conferencing. All workshops are developed collaboratively with the educators and sometimes directly with students.

Here’s a recent post by Samara Moore, Gradlife Ambassador at University of Toronto, Life Lessons from a Writing Workshop.


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