The Sunroom: Poets in Schools

Created by O, Miami, the Sun Room provides creative writing and poetry workshops for third and fourth graders at Orchard Villa and Poinciana Park Elementary schools in Liberty City as well as at three correctional facilities in Homestead.

The goal of the Sun Room is to encourage a love for writing and reading while also developing creative expression.

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The Sunroom: Poets in Schools

Created by O, Miami, the Sun Room provides creative writing and poetry workshops for third and fourth graders at Orchard Villa and Poinciana Park Elementary schools in Liberty City as well as at three correctional facilities in Homestead. The goal of the Sun Room is to encourage a love for writing and reading while also developing creative expression.

O, Miami and project lead, Laurel Nakanishi, developed a program founded on best established practices of similar poetry and writing programs from around the country. Our partnering public schools and detention centers set aside one hour a week for ten weeks for a professional poet to come in and teach. These ten-week workshops culminated with a community poetry reading and the publication of a limited edition chapbook. The 2015 pilot program of nine workshops (six elementary school workshops and three detention center workshops) was enthusiastically embraced by administrators, teachers, and participants. The upcoming 2016 program will expand to incorporate more participants. New goals include the introduction of a stipend for the project lead as compensation for administrative duties and the training of additional poetinstructors to accommodate the additional workshops. The project lead trains instructors according to the standards established by the Literary Arts Partnership at the University of Central Florida and the Teachers and Writers Collaborative in New York City.

The Sun Room 2016-17 will serve 180 local disadvantaged, low-income, and at-risk youth. We anticipate approximately 80 participants within the correctional facilities. For these populations, the Sun Room (A) provides sophisticated instruction in creative writing; (B) increases access to writing education; and (C) provides a safe and positive creative outlet, encouraging a more profound relationship with writing and the arts in general. Secondarily, by creating bonds between local writers and local youth, the program helps disarm socioeconomic barriers in our communities, empowering both the writers who take the workshops and the writers who teach them. Teaching-artist organizations such as the NY Writers Coalition, Urban Word, the Wick Poetry Center, and Write Around Portland prove that a lasting impact on a city can be made through increasing the diversity and inclusivity of writing instruction.

Learn more at O, Miami, and watch The Sunroom: Poetry in Communities video.