Arlington Teens Find Their Voices in Poetry Workshop
By Arlington Public Library
Posted on December 15, 2015, December 15, 2015

 Poetry Workshop

It takes a lot of courage to talk about the joys, pains, insecurities, and observations of teen life. It takes even more courage to create a poem and then speak those words in front of a live audience, but that is exactly what a group of students from Nichols Junior High have been doing this fall.

Beginning in mid-September, 20 teens from Nichols began attending weekly Teen Lit Poetry sessions at the Arlington Public Library. Hosted by slam master, Michael Guinn, these sessions combined classical and spoken word poetry, progressing from reading the words of others to writing their own.

"Mr. Guinn provided an atmosphere of encouragement and acceptance, and sparked the interests of the students by bringing in material and topics they connected with," programming librarian, LaTonya Lynch, said. "He encouraged the students to dig deep, to take risks, to speak their minds and share what was in their hearts."

Lynch said many of the teens who participated in the program blossomed from shy "blend-in-with-the-crowd" individuals into "confident and self-assured young men and women who are passionate about their lives, their stories, and their realities."

The weekly sessions with Guinn all led up to a final, live performance on Saturday, December 12, at Arlington Improv, where six of the students read for their friends and family members. Each student read a classic piece by poets such as Walt Whitman and Shel Silverstein, and then shared an original piece of their own.

AISD Librarian, Whisper the Poet, who has volunteered with Teen Lit for the past two years, said she believes very strongly in the program and what it does for teens.

"I believe it helps teens not only with their [reading and writing], but it gets them creating rather than just sitting and receiving information." Whisper said. "It's very important for them to explore their feelings and views of the world and create art from that."

A panel of three judges scored Saturday's performances and named Dayci Gordan the Slam Champion. Kennedy Johnson received second place, and DeMario Wright third.

The Teen Lit program was made possible through support from AISD and the Texas Literacy Initiative, whose goal is to ensure that every Texas child is strategically prepared for college and career literacy demands by high school graduation.

Support Quality Education
Highlights, Library, News