This is about something I think you will enjoy
personally and find helpful in your work with
Fooling with Words is a PBS documentary
special produced with young people in mind.
We wanted them to see just how vital, com-
pelling, and enjoyable poetry can be.
took our cameras to the Geraldine R. Dodge
Poetry Festival in Waterloo, New Jersey, to
capture the excitement of “the Woodstock of
We covered the festival as if it were a
sporting event, with cameras everywhere—on
the poets as they performed; the audience as it
watched, laughed, wept, and cheered; workshops where students
and aspiring bards talked face-to-face with the poets about their craft
and their lives.
The result is a film that will introduce your students to the power and
pleasure of poetry in many guises—from the rhythmic cadences of
Amira Baraka and Kurtis Lamkin (who accompanies his poems on the
kora, the African ancestor of the harp) to the haunting evocations of
Lorna Dee Cervantes and Shirley Geok-lin Lim, the puckish wit of
Paul Muldoon, the spiritual power of Jane Hirshfield, the wry com-
mentary by Deborah Garrison on the life of women in the workplace,
and the moving remembrances of “Halley’s Comet” by Stanley
Kunitz, at 95 the dean of American poets.
This smorgasbord of contemporary American poetry comes at a
The New York Times says poetry is enjoying a
resurgence in America.
The Atlantic Monthly says, “the nation’s hot
romance with poetry shows no sign of cooling off.” Esquire predicts
poetry will be the pop-culture event at the opening of the new mil-
lennium. Volkswagen included poetry books as a “standard feature”
in all its new cars during National Poetry Month, and poetry is being
celebrated at events from the recent White House gathering of poets
to poetry slams in smoky downtown bars.
Fooling with Words captures the spirit of this phenomenon.
hope you will tape the program and use the accompanying materials.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival is the
largest poetry event in North America.
Festival, held every other year, was inaugurated in
1986 by the Dodge Foundation to help poetry
assume its rightful place in the center of our imagi-
native and emotional lives.
Situated in historic Waterloo Village in Northern
New Jersey, the Festival offers four days of poetry
readings and poetry-centered events—discussions,
conversations, and workshops—for students, teach-
ers, and the general public.
For more information, visit the Festival Web site
at www.grdodge.org/poetry/, fax (973)540-1211,
call (973) 540-8443 ext.139, or write to
Poetry Festival, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation,
163 Madison Avenue, P.O.Box 1239, Morristown, NJ