Hundreds of Students Celebrate Poetry and Tell Journey Stories
WKMS-FM and Murray State University’s Teacher Quality Institute have teamed up for the fifth year of a special project during April, National Poetry Month. WKMS broadcastsPoetry Minutes, short poems by students in western Kentucky public schools, that air at 7:19 a.m. and 4:19 p.m. weekdays through Monday, April 30. Poems will also be posted on the station’s website wkms.org, along with the Journey Stories images that inspired them, so the work of the young writers can be heard any time.
From late January through early March, four thousand visitors, including public school groups, toured The Smithsonian’s Journey Stories exhibition, sponsored by the Kentucky Humanities Council, at Wrather West Kentucky Museum on Murray State’s campus. The students explored images, artifacts, audio, and video that showed journeys that help us trace American history. Besides touring the museum, many of the groups participated in poetry workshops conducted by MSU Faculty Scholar Constance Alexander, award-winning poet, columnist and commentator. Using postcard images from the exhibition, Ms. Alexander also conducted Journey Stories workshops for schools that were unable to visit in person. As a result, hundreds of students from the region wrote poems inspired by Journey Stories.
WKMS New Media and Promotions Coordinator, Matt Markgraf, edited the poems chosen for broadcast. According to Ms. Alexander, the number of participants in this year’s celebration of Poetry Month breaks all records, since hundreds of young writers created original poems, and about twenty young people from the region recorded them for broadcast. “This has been a real regional effort on behalf of an exciting literacy project,” Ms. Alexander said. “WKMS and Matt Markgraf took on the challenge with spirit and energy.”
The Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month in 1996. According to their website, poets.org, the purpose “is to increase attention paid by individuals and the media to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our poetic heritage, to poetry books and magazines.”
WKMS is a listener supported public radio station serving western Kentucky, southernmost Illinois, and northwestern Tennessee. The station's media services include 91.3 WKMS, Murray; WKMS HD-1 and All-Music HD-2; 90.9 WKMD and WKMD HD-1 and HD-2, Madisonville; 89.5 WKMT, Fulton; 99.5 Paris, Tenn., and All-Music 92.5 Paducah and 101.5 Madisonville. The station also offers both channels WKMS HD-1 and HD-2 at wkms.org, where schedules of programs are also on view.