Welcome to Poets House’s annual children’s anthology. We are so excited to share with you the brilliant poems and artwork of second, third, and fourth graders from PS 276, PS 89, and PS1. After months of planning, writing, drawing, folding, listening, and reading, it is with absolute joy that we present to you this document. This year, our theme was “paths,” in honor of the Poetry Path in Battery Park City—an immersive public art installation of poetry running from Rockefeller Park’s north end to the marina at Brookfield Place—which will open later this year.
As some readers may know, our annual anthology usually takes its form in print. But, like so many other so-called “normalcies,” COVID-19 upturned that tradition. So here you will find an electronic copy of the anthology, filled with more artwork and color than usual. If you have access to a printer, feel free to print! (Just note: the anthology is formatted on legal paper.)
But before you dive into these poems, chock full of the uplifting, the strange, the weird, and the wonderful, I wanted to write a few things about the intersection of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter protests happening outside many of your windows, children’s programming, and paths.
Paths, real and imagined, are not only essential to create and follow, but also to unfollow and reshape. As Spirit Tucker (PS 1) writes, “Books are my escape from // the real world.” What is imagined can serve as a way to leave reality, of course, but also to think about and act upon real changes you wish to see. As COVID-19 emptied the streets, Black Lives Matter protests have filled them once again. Walking outside, the use of sidewalks and roadways have been reinterpreted for social justice. No longer are they solely used as ways to get groceries, go to school or the park. Instead, they have become paths of change.
I invite you to meditate on ideas of paths while reading through our anthology. I also invite you to ask yourselves, Where do these young authors want to go? How do they wish to get there? How might their lines of flight be enacted? How do their dream worlds coexist with or completely disrupt the paths of their day-to-day?
On a final note, pathways to knowledge remain tantamount to racial equality and the fight for BIPOC lives in the United States. As this is a children’s anthology, I have compiled a short and not at all exhaustive list of resources for white and other non-Black parents to begin the conversation with your child(ren) about racial inequality in the United States. I have also included a few events and community groups. I hope these are helpful and I hope you find as much joy in the anthology as I have.
Executive Administrative Assistant
“Black Lives Matter Instructional Library” (Google Slides)
“Resources for Talking About Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids” (from the Center for Racial Justice in Education, an NYC-based nonprofit)
Link to purchase How to be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi
Link to attend Karine Bell’s (founder of the Rooted community) guided study group, centered on Resmaa Menakem’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands
Link to attend “Raising Antiracist Kids: Ibram X. Kendi with Derecka Purnell”
“Anti-Racist Parents of NYC: Parents+Caregivers Dismantling White Supremacy” (Facebook Group)
“Resources for Educators: By Antoinette Kane” (Google Doc)