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Support and inspiration for poets and budding writers is provided through Hands on Stanzas, a poets in residence program that improves literacy, brings art to inner-city youth, and empowers students through the reading, writing, discussion and presentation of poetry.

Hands on Stanzas places Chicago poets in public school classrooms and inner-city youth centers for 20 weeks. The program is particularly valuable at schools where the pressure to raise test scores results in more time devoted to preparation for standardized testing, and less time for arts and culture. The writing and reading of poetry encourages students to explore how words can convey their own thoughts, visions and emotions. As students take ownership of language, vocabularies grow, imaginations spark, books are read, and for some, educational stumbling blocks are conquered.

During the 2004-2005 academic year, The Poetry Center's poets-in-residence conducted approximately 1,800 poetry classes, student readings and school-wide projects that involved more than 20,000 students. Hands on Stanzas residencies are concentrated in underserved neighborhoods throughout the city, and serve a student population that is primarily African American and Hispanic.

The Poetry Center acts on the knowledge that teaching students to read and write poetry improves literacy and prepares students to successfully navigate through a world that demands creative communication.

This school year, The Poetry Center is providing 63 poetry residencies, providing weekly poetry classes to over 8,000 Chicago Public School students. At the end of the school year we will publish the 2005-2006 Hands on Stanzas Anthology of Poetry, and poets in residence will coordinate poetry events and special projects in communities all over the city.

Interested in Hands on Stanzas? Chicago Public School administrators and teachers and Chicago poets should contact Michelle Taransky, Programs Cordinator for more information and/or application procedures:
mtaransky @ poetrycenter dot org