Celebrating a Timeless Art with CHS’s Resident Poet

Christopher Uglialoro, Writer

April is National Poetry Month, thirty days dedicated to celebrating the impact of poetry on our culture. The Academy of American Poets did not allot this time simply to worship Shakespeare’s legendary sonnets. Instead, this month pushes young writers to delve into the expressionistic world of poetry. Whether it be reading the classics or scrawling out their emotions, literary creativity is encouraged!

In honor of poetry month, I spoke with Ms. Cohen, a member of CHS’s English department. Ms. Cohen is a practicing poet, and recently received a ten-thousand-dollar grant from the school district to work on her pieces! It is Ms. Cohen’s job to grow students’ love of writing. Thus, I asked her, who kickstarted your writing journey? “In college, I took a creative writing class taught by an amazing poet. He introduced the class to more contemporary poetry.” Still curious, I asked why this poetry resonated with her. “I love the form element of poetry, the idea that there is a word structure that can create tension with the meaning of language.” In essence, Ms. Cohen believes that poems are layered, and every detail matters. How we structure our stanzas and lines can give them entirely new meanings.

Although Ms. Cohen and I are enamored with poetry, many students struggle to enjoy it. I inquired about how she generates student interest in poetry. “I don’t believe in prompts about specific subjects. I feel they restrain people’s ability to investigate their interests. Poems are always better with passion!” Ms. Cohen sees poetry as a vessel for writers to express emotions and explore the world around them. For poets to feel a catharsis, they must have a connection to what they are writing about. Writing about a pre-chosen topic eliminates the self-reflection that poetry provides. Thus, creative freedom is the secret ingredient to building one’s love of poetry. 

Building upon this topic, I asked Ms. Cohen how poetry can remain relevant in a technological world. Maybe I watch too many movies, but when I imagine a poet, I think of a person writing with pen and paper under a tree. Rather than resenting technology, Ms. Cohen praised the possibilities it opens up: “To say that [poetry] wouldn’t be [relevant] because of technology would be to say that the self isn’t relevant due to technology. We still have human desires to understand ourselves and the world around us. Technology allows us to explore new avenues and styles.” This answer revealed something about the beauty of poetry that I had not considered prior. Even when we undergo changes, we try to understand that change. As previously stated, poetry is a vehicle designed for these emotional journeys. 

From experience, I highly recommend that you readers enroll in Ms. Cohen’s class. I took Creative Writing last semester, and the course grew my passion for poetry. Nobody expects you to be the next William Shakespeare, and nobody requires that your poems are even good! The goal of poetry should not be to impress but to express.