Founded in 1984, Poetry Alive! conducted its first show in a music hall called McDibb's in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The audience was made up of about 100 listeners, friends mostly. One audience member was a teacher who saw the educational potential of the show and subsequently asked Poetry Alive! to visit her classes. That was our simple start.
In the nearly 35 years since then, Poetry Alive! has added four other two-person teams to meet the demand for shows. Our presentations have taken us to a total audience of over 10 million, in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, China, Guam, Ethiopia, Japan, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saipan, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela. Each year Poetry Alive! now conducts approximately 2,200 performances, over 700 classroom followups, and 100 teacher workshops for an estimated 600,000 students nationwide. We also conduct several specialized onsite In-Services from 1 to 5 days in length each year.
In 1990 we began an annual summer residency program. The week-long Poetry Alive! Summer Residency allowed us to share all that we know about connecting poetry, performance and writing in the classroom. The residencies are approved for Masters level credits and CEUs.
Today, Poetry Alive! brings the Poetry Alive! Institute for Educators into school districts and the Institute is available to go anywhere. Bringing the Institute to school districts has eliminated the problems that arise with teachers traveling away from home for extended periods. In addition, this has eliminated travel costs for teachers yet still allowing them to participate in this valuable course.
Poetry Alive! has also added two books, It's Showtime and Something Is Going to Happen which provide a lesson plan for teachers at the elementary and secondary level to implement poem performance in the classroom. In addition, Poetry Alive! has CD's where classic poetry meets radio theater and the magic of sound effects. Poetry Alive! also has our classic Poetry Alive! t-shirts in a wide variety of colors as well as our famous Metaphors Be With You® line of products. You can order all of these through our Poetry Alive! Products section of our website.
Returning to the bardic tradition of long ago, the Poetry Alive! actors have memorized hundreds of poems—from the classics to the popular to the contemporary. The company sends out actors in pairs to schools, libraries, festivals and anywhere there is an audience for “poetry with a twist.”
Poetry Alive! has been active in providing keynote addresses, special performances, and instructional workshops for national, regional, state, and local organizations (and affiliates) such as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the International Reading Association (IRA), Teachers Applying Whole Language (TAWL), the American Library Association (ALA), the National Middle School Association (NMSA), and The Core Knowledge Foundation as well as numerous literacy conferences, arts-in-education conferences, cultural diversity workshops, library events, and arts festivals.