Phil Kaye: To Be Featured at the Student Day of Poetry

Phil KayeThe year’s Student Day of Poetry, which will be held at UMass Boston on March 21, is set to continue a trend noted several times on this site in the last few months — young people are rediscovering the excitement of poetry. One of those who ignites enthusiasm in students across the country is Phil Kaye, a featured poet at this year’s SDOP.  (Teachers, register here to bring your classes.) 

Phil is a touring poet, published author, and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E. He has traveled around the world performing his work and has appeared on NPR and performed at Lincoln Center, and he is the two-time recipient of the National College Poetry Slam award for “Pushing the Art Forward,” given for outstanding innovation in the art of performance poetry – the only person to receive the award twice.

Phil not only delivers vitality and fun to the student poetry scene, Project V.O.I.C.E., which he represents, but he focuses on several elements of the Common Core Standards initiative. Students will walk away from SDOP with the tools to start and continue their creative process.

Phil has coached and performed on the 2011 Providence National Poetry Team, which ranked third in the nation. He has also taught in prisons. His book A Light Bulb Symphony was released in 2011.

Here is one of Phil’s poems:

Funerals are like Birthday Parties,

For Nama

My grandmother sings sticky under the sheets

and stares up through the ceiling

We sit in an empty neon hospital

like an aborted Easter egg

forgotten long past Spring

She says that funerals are like birthday parties, except better.

No one wastes money on presents

And everyone dresses up for the theme.

Nama has been waiting to go for eight months now

Today, she stands tall on the dock

Her bags neatly packed.


She says

Lives are meant to be spent

Now I am in debt

And I am tired of borrowing from the people I love

Put me in a nice dress

No straps.

I have very nice shoulders

She laughs.

No Priest.

No Roses.

No Guns.

She wants everyone to bring a bouquet of sunflowers

And then find someone else to give them to.

For a band

She wants every secret shower singer

Every three-chord bedroom rock star

Every sore-thigh drummer

A light bulb symphony

She sighs and lets go of my hand.

As she walks up to the boat, she smiles back and waves to us

As if to say

Don’t worry, I will write.

And carefully, so as to not ruin her hair,

Nama places the elastic strap of her birthday hat around her chin.

And disappears through the doorway.