In June, a cohort of 12 Indianapolis high school students took part in a special three-week summer youth poetry workshop hosted by Indiana Humanities. Freewrite: The Bookmark Indy Summer Youth Poetry Workshop, provided an opportunity for students in grades 9-12 to grow together as writers and create original poetry as a community.
Freewrite co-founders and poets Mitchell L. H. Douglas and Chantel Massey facilitated the workshop and shared how they helped guide young students in finding their voice.
Douglas, author of dying in the scarecrow’s arms and cofounder of Affrilachian Poets, is an associate professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Douglas sees the skills learned during Freewrite as universally beneficial. “One of the things we stress at the workshop is that raising each other up as a group and working with a team is a life skill you can use in any profession. It’s not about one poet, it’s about all the poets.”
When reflecting on what he hoped the students took away from the workshop, Douglas explained that because writing improves our community and quality of life, he encourages the students to go back into the community, find other writers and keep creating.
Massey — author of Bursting at the Seams: A Collection of Poetry, founder of UnLearn Arts, board member for youth poetry organization Word As Bond and editor at Sidepiece Magazine — hopes the students always stay curious and continue asking questions, because there is always something new to learn.
Robin, a Freewrite participant, encourages other students to give poetry a chance. It’s the creative equivalent of a cold pool. “You just have to jump in.”
At the end of the workshop, students produced a chapbook, and showcased their new skills and original poetry at a performance for family and friends.
Learn more about Bookmark Indy at Bookmarkindy.com.