Winners Random House Writing 2016The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards, which annually present $112,000 in scholarships to fifty-six New York City public high school seniors for original poetry, fiction & drama, memoir, graphic novel, and spoken word poetry compositions, were held on June 7. Since 1994, more than two million dollars have been awarded to students and their schools by Random House, and now Penguin Random House, through this awards competition. In this twenty-third year for the competition, more than 1,300 entries were received from a number of diverse public high schools throughout the city’s five boroughs. (more…)

Leap Write Inby Karen Benke, author of Leap Write In! (April 2013, Roost Books) and Rip the Page! (Roost Books)

After the last bell, the middle and high school students in my small town gather on the sunny patio in front of the local Starbucks.  They hang out in lose clusters talking, snacking and, of course, text messaging.  A few feet away, I sit in my silver car and wait for my pre-teen son to finish his socializing, the conversations I overhear cause the corners of my mouth turn upward as I imagine their words, exchanges, exclamations finding their way into poems.  As a writing coach to kids and kids-at-heart, this scene—and others like them—serve as inspiration for the many experimental writing prompts I create to get people inspired to pick up a pen.

In addition to my coaching and work with California Poets in the Schools, I meet with groups of tweens and teens at local bookstores.  (more…)

Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop

by George Bishop, author of Letter to My Daughter: A Novel

In my novel Letter to My Daughter, Laura, a middle-aged mother, writes a long letter to her runaway daughter.  Early on in the story, she bemoans the fact that letter writing seems to be a dying art:  “In this hyperactive age of emails and text messages, the kind of correspondence that Tim [her boyfriend] and I shared must seem like an anachronism to you . . . But I sincerely hope, dear Elizabeth, that someday you might have the pleasure of such an anachronism; that one day you’ll experience for yourself the irreplaceable joy of receiving letters from a lover.”  Much like my protagonist, I too appreciate the value of letters as a form of communication, and for this reason I’m always looking for ways to incorporate letter-writing activities in my English classes. 

Unlike an electronic message, a letter’s a tangible thing; it’s got heft and substance.  We can hold it in our hands, turn it over, smell it even.  We appreciate the extra time it took the sender to write out their thoughts on paper, put the paper in an envelope, address, stamp, and mail it.  A letter says, Listen to me.  I’ve got something important to tell you. (more…)

Ballistics by Billy Collins

Got any budding poets in your classroom? Well, April is National Poetry Month, established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. According to www.poets.org, this is a time “when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.”

What are your classes doing during National Poetry Month? We want to hear, so post your comments below!

Click here for a list of poetry books from Random House, Inc. you can incorporate into your class activities. Need to jazz up those classroom walls? Email us for a FREE Billy Collins Ballistics poster. Limited supplies.