Celebrate National Poetry Month!

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By Meredith Nnoka, Community Educator

Read Time 3 minutes
April 2, 2023

National Poetry Month is here again, bringing with it spring weather, brighter days, and exciting opportunities for young poets in Illinois. These blossoming poets have been sending us their original poetry for our annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards (the deadline is fast approaching on May 5!) and joining us at writing workshops around the state to practice their craft. In celebration of poetry, and the talent our young people express in their medium, here are some ways to get involved with poetry this month.

Attend a writing workshop for grade 8-12 students

First, throughout the month of April, Illinois Humanities is hosting free poetry workshops in cities around Illinois, an effort that kicked off on March 30 in Urbana at the Independent Media Center. Coming up we’ll be hosting additional workshops in Chicago and Rock Island, including:

  • Thursday, April 27 in Chicago: A poetry writing workshop for grades 9-12 in partnership with Young Chicago Authors at their headquarters. Register here
  • Saturday, April 29 in Rock Island, IL: The Midwest Writing Center will host a two-part workshop, including one for grades K-6 at 10:00 a.m., and another for grades 7-12 at 12:30 p.m. Register here

Take Gwendolyn Brooks’ Advice

We also encourage you to try out some of Ms. Brooks’s writing tips for young writers in her Young Poet’s Primer, including:

Hear talk in the street. There is much real poetry coming out of the mouths of people in the street. Many clichés, yes, but also vitality and colorful strengths.

Keep a journal. In it, write down anything that stirs you, impresses you.

Looking for more writing resources? Download a DIY poetry writing guide for kids, teens, parents, and teachers on our website. 

Read the poetry of young Illinoisans

Get inspired to try poetry for yourself by reading original poems by young Illinoisans. You can read poems by Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Awards winners on our website here. The 2022 chapbook features the work of last year’s awardees.

Lastly, we encourage you to sign up for our mailing list and check back in on our social media at @ILHumanities for updates on this year’s Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards. Winning poems will be announced by the end of the summer. Until then, we look forward to reading your or your students’ poetry!

Illinois Humanities presents the annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards competition for K-12 poets to find their voice, hone their craft, and express their creativity in honor of the youth poetry awards that Ms. Brooks ran from 1969-2000.

Submit your poem for this year’s competition and find opportunities to practice your writing at ILHumanities.org/Poetry.

About the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards

This annual competition honors the legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks and the creativity of K-12 writers in Illinois by creating a platform for the next generation of poets to share their voices and develop their craft. Submissions open in November and awards are announced the following summer. Winners receive a prize package and are invited to celebrate at an awards ceremony in Chicago.

Learn More