Celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks: a Workshop for Young Poets

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Mar 30, 2023


Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
202 S Broadway Ave
Urbana, IL 61801


Open to the public

The University of Illinois Rare Books and Manuscripts Library and Illinois Humanities welcome students in grades 5-8 for an afterschool celebration of poetry and the life Gwendolyn Brooks. Participants will examine materials that belonged to Gwendolyn Brooks (including a spice box filled with keys!) and write poetry using her words and their own imaginations. If you love to read, write, and act out poems, then join Janice N. Harrington, the author of The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County, for this innovative poetry and biography workshop.

Students will be invited to submit their poems to the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards, a statewide youth poetry competition founded by Gwendolyn Brooks herself when she was Illinois’s poet laureate. Illinois Humanities has been proud to present the competition since 2017.

This workshop is presented by Illinois Humanities and the University of Illinois’ Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. It will be hosted at the Independent Media Center by Janice N. Harrington, a professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Food and drinks will be provided.

This event is free and open to students in grades 5 through 8, but space is limited. To attend, please register below.

About your host

Janice N. Harrington’s latest book of poetry is Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin (BOA Editions). She is also the author of Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone, The Hands of Strangers, and several award-winning children’s books, including the verse-novel Catching a Storyfish. She teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What to expect

This workshop will be presented in English with a combination of visual, written, and spoken engagement. Please contact Meredith Nnoka at meredith.nnoka@ilhumanities.org with any questions about accommodations or accessibility.

Parents and/or guardians are asked to remain with their child during the workshop. Parents/guardians who are unable to stay for the workshop may reach out to Meredith Nnoka at meredith.nnoka@ilhumanities.org to discuss further options.

COVID-19 Policy

The Independent Media Center’s COVID-19 Policy can be found on their FAQ page under the “What are the current COVID-19 Safety Protocols?” question.

Directions and Parking

Visitor parking: City parking meters in the downtown Urbana area are enforced Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Parking in the municipal garage at 100 W. Main St. (just kitty-corner from the IMC) is available for 25 cents an hour for the first two hours and 50 cents for each additional hour.

The local bus system, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, operates a main hub right across the street from the IMC. The 3 closest MTD bus stops are: (2 on Broadway) Lincoln Square Garage East and Lincoln Square Courthouse, Lincoln Square Garage South (on Elm Street).


This event, part of our Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards program, is made possible thanks to the generous support of our funders.

The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and have been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. Additional support is provided by Abrams Books, Library of America, Poetry Foundation and Allstate.

About the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards

This event is presented as a part of Illinois Humanities’ annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards. This annual youth poetry competition honors the legacy of Illinois’ own Gwendolyn Brooks: renowned poet, author, and the first Black Pulitzer Prize winner. Each and every one of the young poets who take part in this competition is a part of that legacy. Brooks summed up the contest best in a note in 1977: “All the children who entered the contest are winners… They worked hard. They created. And that is what is important.”

Learn more and submit a poem at ILHumanities.org/Poetry.

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