“Change” was the theme of our middle schoolers’ recent virtual poetry performance. As an audience of families and supporters watched, students delivered insightful original poems that explored the idea of change in relation to racism, global warming, the pandemic, adolescence, and a variety of other topics. “The way these young people look at the world and deconstruct issues is very encouraging and inspirational,” says poet Jive Poetic. “I’m extremely proud of the work they’ve created.”
Our sixth and eighth graders spent five weeks working closely with professional poets Jive Poetic and Daniella Toosie-Watson as part of Harlem Academy’s Visiting Poets Program – a longstanding partnership between Harlem Academy and the Poetry Society of America. The program brings professional poets of color into our middle school classrooms each year to explore the craft of poetry and guide students through the writing and revision process, culminating in a live reading of original poems.
“Throughout the process, our students not only learn to create original pieces, they also discover that poetry is an effective way to voice their concerns, feelings, and ideas,” says middle school English teacher Mohan Bell.
Click below to watch a sampling of our students’ performances.