About the Sojourner Scholars Mood Tracker Poetry Project

The Sojourner Scholars Mood Tracker Poetry Project was developed during a three week summer seminar exploring the life and legacy of our beloved poet Gwendolyn Brooks, with Second Year Sojourner Scholars, facilitated by award winning poets Nicole Bond and Dr. Tara Betts.

Using the Gwendolyn Brooks epic collection of work Blacks, published by Third World Press, the Scholars embarked on a literary journey to include stops at historical events, visits to Chicago landmarks of the past and present, and introductions to important figures and complex characters. All vividly captured in the poems, The Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock Fall 1957, The Chicago Picasso, The Wall, Paul Robeson, of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery, a song in the front yard and many others.

We Scholars were encouraged to make the text our own to discover poems that resonated or poems we found challenging, then examine them closely and share our interpretations.

We also had the luxury of having LaWanda “LaLa” McCraney – Doctoral Student at Adler School of Professional Psychology, share valuable tools for mental wellness support. Her Mood Tracker tool – a journal format self check-in, we took a step further, by finding poems from the Gwendolyn Brooks collection to correspond with the moods listed. We then crafted original poetry to pair with the Brooks poems. And with the generous support of Brooks Permissions, The Sojourner Scholars Mood Tracker Poetry Project was created.

If you’re in a mood, any mood… we have a poem or two for that.


“Magnitude N. Bond”

Original poetry by…

Traviana Archer

Antowann Carter

Armani Easter

Arielle Erskin

Jamie Koonce

Janasha Lewis

Jorge Maya

Zacarria Porter

Clarence Sanford

Sandra Swift


More About the Sojourner Scholars program

Sojourner Scholars provides high school students from four South Side Chicago Public School high schools the opportunity to take college level courses with local university and college faculty over the course of three summers, beginning the summer following their freshman year.

During the first two summers of the program, students study literature, U.S. history, philosophy, and art history. In the final summer, students embark upon a research-intensive capstone project that draws upon local, community-based archives and resources.

Upon successfully completing all three summer sessions, students earn eight college credits in the humanities that they can transfer to any two or four-year college or university.

In addition to the summer sessions, year-round programming is available to the students in the form of book groups, art making workshops, field trips, internships, and college advising.

For more information, please visit ilhumanities.org/program/sojourner-scholars.