the power of poetry

Finding ways to connect with and teach youth who may have not experienced success in a typical classroom is a priority for New Avenues’ Alternative School.   And a local teen group called Poeteen is helping us do that through poetry!   15235422_1734261230233554_1755549232900087975_o (2)

Held once a month, students from this Lincoln High School organization facilitate a poetry workshop with students in our Alternative School.  Workshop activities and discussions include free-writes, poetry readings, discussions about poetry in general as well as about specific pieces, and slam-poetry performances. New Avenues Teacher and Jesuit Volunteer Jessica Foley says, “It has been a great creative outlet for the youth we serve.”

Founded in 2015 by Sophia Mautz, a then junior at Lincoln High School, Poeteen was created to “not only revive the life of poetry among teens, but also have teenagers help their peers by introducing them to poetry and allowing them to experience its healing qualities.”

“Working with New Avenues has been an eye-opening experience,” says Sophia. “These young people have such open hearts and such shockingly beautiful minds. It has been amazing to witness the transformative power poetry can have in providing a means for people to find their voice, and use it. They actively participate in all discussions and exercises, and share their thoughts by being vulnerable and brave. Not only can reading other people’s poems provide a buoy of hope, but it can also serve as inspiration to become the next Maya Angelou or Edgar Allen Poe — the possibilities are boundless, and witnessing this all has been so inspiring.”

To find out more about Poeteen, go to

Why study poetry? According to recent studies, poetry can:

  • increase students’ literacy and linguistic awareness
  • help students expand their oral and written vocabularies
  • increase critical analysis skills
  • encourages creative expression
  • provides connection and encourages empathy for others