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Chicago’s National Youth Poet Laureate Leads Poetry Writing Workshop

8/22/2018, noon | Updated on 8/22/2018, noon
The Chicago Child Care Society recently hosted a Creative Writing Workshop with Patricia Frazier, Chicago’s National Youth Poet Laureate. The ...
The Chicago Child Care Society recently hosted a Creative Writing Workshop with Patricia Frazier (pictured), Chicago’s National Youth Poet Laureate. The workshop gave participants of two CCCS young adult programs the opportunity to try their hand at creating poetry and performing spoken word. Photo Credit: Chicago Child Care Society

Chicago’s National Youth Poet Laureate Leads Poetry Writing Workshop

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

The Chicago Child Care Society recently hosted a Creative Writing Workshop with Patricia Frazier, Chicago’s National Youth Poet Laureate. The workshop gave participants of two CCCS young adult programs the opportunity to try their hand at creating poetry and performing spoken word.

The Chicago Child Care Society (CCCS) is a 169-year-old non-profit organization and child welfare agency that provides high-impact intervention and prevention services for children and youth who are facing significant challenges in their lives.

19-year-old Frazier is studying film and creative writing at Columbia College in Chicago and was named the 2018 National Youth Poet Laureate, an honor that was launched as an initiative of Urban Word, an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

The poetry workshop was open to participants of CCCS’ Kings Achieving Leadership and Understanding (KALU) Male Mentoring program and their Next Step Beyond Parenting programs. Attendees learned poetry writing techniques from Frazier and they were encouraged to find their own ways of creating self-expressive poetry.

“People have a lot of prejudgments about what poetry is and I think it’s my job, as the teacher, to take that away from them and show them that poetry is whatever you put on the page. A poem is however you feel and a poem is whatever story you choose to tell in whatever language you choose to tell it,” said Frazier.

There was no prerequisite for attending the poetry workshop and for many of Frazier’s students, this is their first experience with creative writing and writing poetry.

“This was something new for a lot of the participants and initially a lot of them had trouble just beginning to write. They talked about writing as being a way for them to express themselves and their feelings and just get it out on the paper,” said Heshima Mance, the Director of Youth and Family Empowerment for the CCCS.

At each poetry workshop, students received two new journals, one that will remain on site and one for them to take home, and a new understanding of poetry and creative writing. This workshop is just one of the many ways that CCCS works to meet their goal of increasing literacy.

“One of the goals that is overarching for our agency is building literacy skills and literacy through writing. We thought, due to many of our students being connected to music, that poetry would be a fun way to build literacy,” said Mance.

Exposing people to poetry is what Frazier enjoys most and when the workshop ended several of her students said they planned to continue using creative writing for self-expression, according to Mance.

“That’s my favorite part, opening up the world of poetry and making poetry something that isn’t just about Shakespeare or a lot of other old white dead guys,” said Frazier.