The International Poetry Guild is a web-based language-arts program that develops student' writing abilities while encouraging them to become critical, appreciative readers of poetry. IPG combines the individualized activity of writing poetry with the teamwork needed to compile "journals" of student work. The Poetry Guild can easily be incorporated into any language arts curriculum in junior and senior high schools.

Through web-based interactions, students exchange their work and ideas with fellow writers around the world. Their poems are also read by a group of "Mentors," University of Michigan students who support and critique participants' work and engage them in an on-going discussion of poetics and the creative process.
At the end of the term, the Mentors bestow the Poetry Guild awards, in recognition of a variety of outstanding poetic achievements. TA typical International Poetry Guild conference connects poets at several schools over the course of a school term. The poets are in daily contact with one another, posting their poetry on the password protected website to which all schools have access, and reading and commenting on the work of others.
Many participating schools choose to create, edit, and ultimately publish their own poetry journal. These students constitute themselves as the editorial board of a poetry journal of their own design; it is they who determine the creative and artistic vision that will guide the crafting of their journal. Throughout the course of the exercise, then, each editorial staff is in charge of reviewing the poetry that has been posted in the guild, and selecting poems that meet both its editorial policy and its standards from among those poems. The goal of each editorial staff is to produce and publish a journal in keeping with their artistic concept; copies of the finished journals are then exchanged among the Guild schools.   

To assist the student poets, each Guild is assigned several Mentors. The Mentors are University students of poetry and writers of poetry who enroll in a School of Education course, with their coursework centered on intensive interaction with the students. IPG was founded and continues to exist on the assumption that young writers often don't have a safe and supportive place to pursue their writing. We consider it a most significant endeavor to try and stake out such a place for young writers, and it is the mentors who are primarily responsible for pointing the way to this ideal. The mentors offer support to the young writers while also striving to model behavior and approaches to criticism that will help some of our IPG participants begin to truly see themselves as writers, writers with something important to say. It is the combination of the editing that each of the editorial staffs do, the writing of poetry that all students in all participating schools are encouraged to undertake, and the cultivation of a safe environment in which poets can share and discuss their work, that makes up the International Poetry Guild.

Contact Jeff Stanzler (stanz@umich.edu, 734-763-5950) for more information.