Past Event

Making Sense/Making Nonsense: Writing Original Sonnets

The first sonnet was written almost 1,000 years ago, but today, poets write sonnets that contain tough truths, jokes, confessions, and, sometimes, nonsense. What is a sonnet? And why would a new poet want to write such an old type of poem?

In this workshop, open to all students in grades 8-12, you’ll find answers to these questions. We’ll explore sonnets by Gwendolyn Brooks, Bernadette Mayer, and Dawn Lundy Martin and talk about how sonnets are made, as well as devote time to writing, sharing, and revising. This workshop is for anyone who likes to write, be creative, express themself, and explore what language can do. You will leave with a sonnet of your own, as well as a deeper understanding of how poems get made. The workshop is hosted by Lucy Biederman, a Chicago poet and teacher.

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 will be hosted at the King Branch of the Chicago Public Library by Lucy Biederman, a professional teacher and writer. Food and drinks will be provided.

This event is free and open to the public for students in grades 8 through 12, 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