Creative Writing Graduate Students Sarah Ehrich and Meredith Jordan Host Poetry Program For Boston Public School Teens

Eric Matthews
August 30, 2011

Creative Writing graduate students Meredith Jordan and Sarah Ehrich received a Graduate Student Association (GSA) Special Award in May 2011 to use toward POP! (Poets of Place): a summer poetry program for Boston Public School teens that culminated in a final poetry reading on July 27 at Copley Square.

POP! was a free, part-time summer poetry-writing program that met twice weekly in July. Student Meredith Jordan says the program theme “promoted interaction between inside/outside: inside and outside the classroom, inside and outside of our communities, inside and outside of ourselves.”

Creative Writing students Meredith Jordan and Sarah Ehrich with their POP! group.

Creative Writing students Meredith Jordan (far left) and Sarah Ehrich (far right) with the POP! group.

Throughout POP!, students learned poetic craft, research skills, and sensory interpretation through lessons and workshops conducted in various Boston neighborhoods that were used to inspire their creative writing. Student Sarah Ehrich reflected on her experiences with putting together POP!: “It was so much fun working with the POP! students.

They elicited lively discussions in the classroom and were adventurous when we went on excursions. I think it was a unique experience for them to experience writing and learning outside of the classroom and this was a major success in our program. Most of all, I loved watching and experiencing the bonds develop among the members of POP!.”

POP! culminated in a final poetry reading at Copley Square on July 27 where students showcased their work, shared their poems and presented attendees with a class magazine of their poetry. Ms. Ehrich shared her views on the event: “Meredith and I were thrilled with how the Final Event went. After only a short three weeks of course time, the students put together a collection of poems about place that impressed us and our guests at the event.

The reading was held in Copley Square at the Cloud Foundation; the atmosphere of the place was comfortable and sophisticated and the students were so thrilled and excited when they saw it. They did a wonderful job hosting the reading for more than 50 people. We also compiled 2-3 poems from each student into a class magazine which we distributed at the event. The poems that came out of these excursions demonstrate a reflective and imaginative lens, which is what we wanted to happen when he conceived of the program.”

Both Meredith and Sarah were able to fund POP! with one of three Special Awards awarded by the GSA during the Spring 2011 semester. “We could not have done this project without the GSA award” remarks Sarah. “We were able to pay for the students' public transportation to and from class (which could have been a burden for many of our students). Lunch on our excursion days was also paid for with the grant. These meals were not only fun, but they helped us make the day a special experience for the students.

The most fun way we used some of the money was purchasing books of poetry. Meredith and I went to Raven Used Books and found poets we thought would be inspirational for each individual student. I know the students really appreciated this gesture and it was really moving to pass these books out at the end of our event. In short, we could not have run the program without the grant or without the support of Emerson in general.”