#TeachLivingPoets Statement

To the #TeachLivingPoets community,

On behalf of the educators, students, and poets who have come together to create such a strong, diverse community, we as a #TeachLivingPoets family would like to express our profound disappointment in the Poetry Foundation, and denounce using their resources in our classroom until they make some actionable changes.

blm teachlivingpoetsThe events of the past ten days remind us that there is much work to do.  We, as the teachers of living poets, stand with those affected by the systemic racism that led to the tragic murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many other Black and Brown people.  We stand alongside you in speaking out against the inequities in American society that have contributed to the disproportionate number of deaths of people of color due to Covid-19. We stand alongside you in protesting the injustices that exist that lead us to join our voices with those who shout “Black Lives Matter.”

The protests that have followed these most recent injustices should serve as a wake up call to every one of us who are charged with the education of the next generation of Americans. We are fully aware that white educators make up 83% of the system and also realize our TLP community has work to do on becoming a space where more BIPOC educators feel safe and welcome to join us. We acknowledge the vital role we play as educators to promote understanding, engage in dialogue, and build solutions that will bring us closer to justice and equity, but we also acknowledge the role the education system has played in sustaining inequities and bias over the decades.

We, as TLP educators, must do better.

We must not only condemn the unjust actions of law enforcement and the criminal justice system and use our votes and voices to create change, but we must also take an intentional and active anti-racist stance in examining the practices and policies within our own schools that reinforce white supremacy and racial inequity.

We make this promise to the TLP community: we stand with poets whose voices are amplified in our classrooms but who are marginalized in society.  We will listen, we will learn, we will amplify Black voices, and we will join in taking action against the systems of oppression that exist in America today.


I extend the humblest and utmost gratitude to Carrie Mattern, a teacher in Flint, MI, a friend, co-conspirator, and colleague from afar, for her help writing this. Thank you, Carrie. For this and for all the work you do to make a difference.

Kendrick Lamar Workshop Project

Considering Elegy with Clint Smith & Danez Smith poems

A Declaration in Poetry with Tracy K. Smith

Celebrate Black Poets

Exploring “Heart to Heart” by Rita Dove

Line breaks, featuring poems by Gwendolyn Brooks & Terrance Hayes

Teaching a poetry collection with Clint Smith’s Counting Descent

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