Clearing the Spring, Tending the Fountain 2014

Sessions: Local Groups

These poetry sessions for New Jersey teachers get their title from the understanding that the spring of our imaginative and creative lives requires tending.  Teachers need this tending now more than ever.

Spring & Fountain sessions are deceptively simple, yet deeply rewarding.  With the guidance of a Dodge Poet, you and your colleagues share old favorites or newly-discovered poems in a supportive, collegial atmosphere that welcomes teachers from all grade levels and subject areas.  Writing is not a requirement.  

Throughout March and April, Spring & Fountain sessions will be held all over New Jersey, in a variety of time slots and locations to fit your schedule. Participants chose a 3-session or a 6-session series.  Attendees of Spring & Fountain are eligible to join the all-day Common Gathering and to invite a colleague who may be new to poetry. 

Registration for Spring and Fountain sessions is closed. Please join our mailing list to receive information about next year’s offerings.

The Common Gathering

A Mini Poetry Retreat for Teachers
May 3, 2014: Princeton, NJ

Registration for the Common Gathering is now closed. 

On Saturday, May 3rd, participants from all Spring & Fountain sessions will join Dodge Poets for a day-long celebration of poetry that will feature readings, writing opportunities and discussions on a variety of topics on poetry and its place in our lives. 

Our featured poet is Henri Cole, who you may have seen at the 2012 Dodge Poetry Festival. You can read more about Henri here

A catering fee of $20 covers all meals for the day. All other event fees are waived. 

Here's a sample of just a few of the Conversations and Writing Activities that will be available for participants during The Common Gathering:


Giving Voice Sessions: Immerse yourself in the oral/aural tradition.  This exploration of newly discovered poems shared aloud leads to a conversation in poems.


Conversation or Writing Activity (Past offerings have included): 

  • The News from Poems (conversation)

  • Speech and Silence: Words and the Poetry Beyond Words (conversation)

  • The Expected and the Unexpected (writing)

  • Now, if I Wrote that Poem... (writing)

11:40 -12:25 

Reading by featured poet 
Lunch (provided)


Conversation or Writing Activity (Past offerings have included):

  • A Conversation with Featured Poet(s)
  • The Agony and the Ecstatics (conversation)

  • Daydreaming Into Words (writing)

  • “Tell Me All About Him / Her …” (writing)

Afternoon Snacks (provided)    


Featured Poet(s) Reading of their favorite poems


Book Signings by Featured Poet and Dodge Poets
Bookstore and Dodge Poetry Merchandise Sale 

Some Conversation Descriptions from Last Year:  

Ah Ha! The Moment of Discovery
There are times in our lives when we make startling discoveries about ourselves, those we love or life in general.  Often these occur when our eyes suddenly open to what was right in front of us all along.  Writing that examines these “ah ha!” moments can be illuminating and, at its best, create such moments for the reader or listener. We will discuss poems that contain this energy, which startles and awakens us.

It’s a Mystery!
As a form of un-knowing, the presence of mystery in poetry provokes engagement and disengagement. It disrupts our longing for closure and for the comfort of the internal click of understanding that many poems offer. Yet mystery moves through poems in ways that we can apprehend, if not fully understand. On the surface, it may occur in a shift of rhythm, on a deeper level in an image or absence that stays with us long after we have left the poem behind. Let’s talk about mystery in poems, how it happens and how it affects us. 

Some Writing Activity Descriptions from Last Year:

Beginner’s Senses
Perhaps Beginner's Mind is easier to experience if we avoid approaching it with our minds and use our bodies instead.  The senses open up pathways to rich associations and memories in ways we can neither consciously predict nor control.  The smell of a creosoted pier, the sound of a birdcall not heard since childhood, the chill of a stone bench through our clothes could evoke images and feelings for many of us: some playful, some plaintive.  Who knows?  Let’s experiment with opening up and dwelling in our senses for a while and explore how this outdoor/exterior experience might inform and expand our indoor/interior talk.

Malls, Fish Markets and the DMV: a Writing Activity
There are plenty of poems about fields and woods, abandoned farms and quiet streams, but far fewer about fish markets and shopping malls.  And yet, poet after poet tells us of the importance of place in our poems. Gas stations, waiting rooms, and the DMV are places we actually know well, and which make up a surprisingly large chunk of our experience, but which we often ignore when we pick up our pens.  We'll share a few poems of unlikely place and see where they lead us as settings or subjects for poems. 

In This Section

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long.—You come too.

            --Robert Frost, “The Pasture”


Clearing the Spring, Tending the Fountain gets its title from the understanding that, like the spring in Robert Frost’s “The Pasture,” the spring of our imaginative and creative centers requires tending. This can be particularly true for teachers with the increasing pressures put on them in these challenging times.

Since 1992, the Dodge Poetry Program has offered Spring & Fountain to New Jersey teachers of all grade levels and subject areas.