Dodge Festival Celebrates Poetry at Hopatcong

Break-out Session with Gretna Wilkinson

Photo: by Tatiana Karram

The Geraldine Dodge Poetry Foundation hosted a regional high school Mini Poetry Festival at Hopatcong High School on Tuesday, November 10, bringing in five area high schools to experience the cultural event.  The event, which has been in the planning since last spring, included poetic presentations, as well as conversations with six nationally acclaimed poets.

The day began with a general assembly, “Morning Sampler of Poets,” where poets, Khalil Murrell, Gretna Wilkinson, John McDermott, Marina Carreira, Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Catherine Doty presented their work. Following the assembly, students then enjoyed three afternoon breakout sessions with the poets: “conversations with poets,” poetic presentations, and an optional open mic.

A staff of HHS students, garbed in Hopatcong-Dodge T-shirts, guided visiting schools that included the following: Sparta High School, Pequannock High School, Kittatinny Regional High School, High Point Regional High School, and Essex County West Caldwell Tech.

English teacher, Mrs. Sandra DeRose, and art teacher, Mr. Jon Rischawy, worked together to create the art-infused festival. When asked what his art students had done to prepare for the festival, Rischway responded, “We prepared by creating art work based on poems that were submitted by Hopatcong students.  Our aim was to create relevant art displays for the poetry festival.”

According to DeRose, the months of preparation for this event were well-worth the cultural experience that the festival brought to the high school. “It was truly heartening to see so many students—both Hopatcong and visiting schools—highly engaged in poetry as a living art,” she said.

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Foundation is an American philanthropic organization which nurtures the spread of poetry, culture, and leadership. Every two years the foundation hosts a major poetry festival, and on the “off’ years the Dodge Foundation hosts mini festivals in high schools across New Jersey.

Hopatcong High School was chosen this year to host the “northern” NJ festival at our school.




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