The White Mountain School has a longstanding connection with one of the world’s beloved poets, Robert Frost. From his days as a visiting poet on our campus to hosting the annual Frost Place summer programs, his presence and the landscape that inspired his poetry is still very much a part of The White Mountain School.
Since 2011 The White Mountain School has been the host of two Frost Place summer programs. In July, White Mountain hosted the Conference on Poetry and most recently the Frost Place Poetry Seminar from August 4 to August 10. White Mountain is a perfect venue for this intensive poetry camp for the writers in residence who come to campus each summer for workshops, lectures, and readings. Each day begins with faculty readings. In the afternoon there are workshops and one-on-one sessions with mentors who review and advise the writers’ work. Every evening readings take place in the Henry Holt Barn at the Frost Place. “Listening to poets read their work in the barn, you can almost feel Frost’s presence…”Kyle Potvin, the Hyla Brook Group.
The Frost Place’s mission is to provide a permanent home and museum for poets and poetry while honoring the legacy of Robert Frost and encouraging the creation and appreciation of poems. Frost Place partners with organizations that have similar goals, and it is their hope that these partnerships will help reach a broader audience for poetry in many diverse communities. Faculty members are nationally recognized poets including directors of small presses, winners of top prizes, and recipients of Fellowships, including the Guggenheim, among others. In addition to the programs at White Mountain, The Frost Place hosts a conference for teachers called “The Conference on Poetry and Teaching.” Dartmouth College supports a residency program at the Frost Place.
Frost bought the Franconia farm in 1915. It was at the farm where he wrote some of his most enduring poems, including “The Mending Wall,” “The Road Not Taken,” and “The Gift Outright,” which he read at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The Town of Franconia created a nature trail on the property to show the inspiration Frost drew from nature. There are plaques along the way featuring Frost’s poetry. This “Poetry Trail” is known to a small community of poetry buffs. Aspiring poets who travel there draw tremendous inspiration.
White Mountain is fortunate to have access and connections to The Frost Place and their programs. Becky Beno, White Mountain faculty member, who serves on the Board of Directors at The Frost Place comments, “White Mountain has enjoyed a really wonderful relationship with The Frost Place through the years.” Becky helps promote and facilitate programs and volunteer opportunities for White Mountain students at the Frost Place. This past May, for the first time, The Frost Place sponsored a poetry reading for young poets in area schools. Becky introduced the idea and was instrumental in organizing it. It was called “Early Frost: A Celebration of Young Poets.” Three White Mountain student poets were invited to participate and read their poems during the evening poetry reading in the Holt Barn. This coming year there are plans for a poetry competition for youth who live in Franconia Notch. Becky and others at White Mountain also promote National Poetry Month at the School. During the month, many Morning Meetings relate to the art of poetry with emphasis on poems read by students. In 2018 and 2019 students also took part in a community poetry reading at the Bethlehem Public Library.
In 1950 Robert Frost spent a week at St. Mary’s in the Mountains, now the White Mountain School, as poet-in-residence. He had been invited by Ms. Jenks, St. Mary’s fifth head of school from 1944-1959. She urged him to teach several classes and he sat with her at the Head’s table for meals. With our great heritage, tradition of poetry, and Field Courses like Place-Based Writing: The White Mountains, The White Mountain School remains committed to our legacy of inspiring young writers and writers and poets.