A series of invisible, rain-activated haiku poems, written by elementary schoolchildren in Germantown, can be seen through August.
A series of invisible, rain-activated haiku poems, written by elementary schoolchildren in Germantown as part of Rain Poetry, a public literacy project, can be seen on the pavement in Germantown’s Vernon Park through August. The poems are accompanied by printed pieces, so that even in dry weather there is something to read.
The project is funded by PA Humanities, the state granting partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which asked former Philadelphia poet laureate Yolanda Wisher to design a poetry teaching program for elementary schoolchildren that could be committed to pavement.
“There’s the notion that kids only learn in school, but we believe that kids should learn everywhere,” said Dawn Frisby Byers, director of engagement and content at PA Humanities. “Having poems written by children in public spaces illustrates that point.”
Wisher brought five former and current youth poets laureate into service to form a poetry education gang: Telicia Darius, Cydney Brown, Mia Concepcion, Husnaa Hashim, and David Jones.
“We re-activated them, like when you re-enlist them for duty,” Wisher said. “When you’re a poet laureate, you never really stop being a poet laureate.”
The education team focused on the haiku form, a short and simple medium easy for young people to grasp with its rigid 5-7-5 syllable structure.
“I think it’s one of those low-risk, low barriers-to-entry kind of forms,” Wisher said.