Bay Shore High School students last week greeted the award-winning poet-scholar-professor-freestyler Joshua Bennett for a special visit.

Throughout the day last Friday, Dr. Bennett performed his own work, participated in question-and-answer sessions, and conducted an intensive creative writing workshop with about 150 students — all aspiring young authors from the school.

His visit was funded by a multi-year grant from the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund, the same not-for profit organization that took over 500 students to see the acclaimed musical Hamilton in March of 2016.

“Dr. Bennett spent an entire day performing, answering questions, listening deeply to students between periods, running a workshop for 125 kids and hosting a vivacious open mic,” said Matt Pasca, the Bay Shore English teacher who curates and organizes the fund’s Visiting Writers Program. 

“He was blown away by our 650-plus students and staff and school and, though tired, said it was the highlight of his week.”

Dr. Bennett is the author of Owed, forthcoming in 2020 from Penguin, and The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016), as well as the winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series. He holds a PhD in English from Princeton University and is currently an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

Over the past five years, award-winning authors Kyle Dargan, Veronica Golos, Jeanann Verlee, Regie Cabico, Naomi Shihab Nye and Denice Frohman have all come to share their work, inspiration and knowledge with Bay Shore High School students due to the grant.

“The goal with this specific grant … is to expose as many students as possible to the brilliance, humor, rigor and rhetorical magic of a visiting artist, but if even 20 percent of those kids walked into their weekend and beyond shifted in their thinking—about themselves, history, the world and their own agency and possibilities—I say hallelujah,” Pasca said.

He said the series take a big effort by a lot of people.

Below are videos of Dr. Bennett in action, including a performance at the White House

Photo Credit: Matt Pasca