Past Event

Celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks: A Workshop for Young Poets

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 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