Poets with Class

Poets with Class features short-term assemblies and workshops focusing on poetry writing and performance. Read more about the program, its offerings, and our teaching artists below.

About the Program

Poets with Class is Poetry Center of Chicago’s touring, after school, and custom built performance poetry programing. Our workshops teach the craft of writing and creative performance to empower and engage students and community members of all ages, K through college and beyond. Poets with Class’s teaching and touring artists boasts some of Chicago’s most accomplished writers and performers, all of whom have extensive backgrounds in theater, poetry, and education.

Last year, Poets with Class worked with approximately 8,000 students across Chicago. Our workshops build confidence in public speaking and expand students’ capacities and excitement in literacy and fine arts.

Programs Offered

  • Assemblies: 40-60min multi-voice performance poetry showcases
  • Classroom / Workshop: 30-90min workshops in performance and writing
  • After-School: ongoing weekly residency of slam poetry programing after school
  • After-School with competition coaching: added emphasis on a school’s chosen youth competition like Louder Than A Bomb, Brave New Voices, Poetry Out Loud, etc.

Our workshops can be tailored to the interests and needs of each community, and we offer theme specific sessions, too.
Some of our most popular are:

  • Black History, Women’s History & National Poetry Month
    Highlighting and responding to relevant works from legacy poets.
  • “ReBoot, Poetry On Its Feet” (Back to School) & “Launch Into Literacy”
    Designed to excite student appetites into seeking published works by bringing printed media to life.
  • “Voices of Chicago”
    A performance-forward assembly-style program that explores the fact that “everyone’s story matters.”
  • Build Your Own Program
    Customized programs to fit the dynamic needs of your school.
  • Shoot For The Stars
    Dynamic performance poetry for 2nd & 3rd graders.
  • We Built The City! (multi-cultural & inter-faith)
    Engages students with performances that tell stories of immigration, integration, diversity, & history

Who We Serve

Poets with Class is open for K-12 schools interested in fulfilling both Illinois and Chicago Public School (CPS) Common Core
English Language and Fine Arts requirement standard, Colleges and Universities interested in bringing dynamic performance or interactive diversity and arts programs, and Community organizations (eg. libraries, churches, park districts, etc) interested in providing custom built slam poetry entertainment or edutainment for children, youth, and adults.

Connect

Reach out to program director, Mojdeh Stoakley, to discuss which programs are right for your school or community. A full list of programming, pricing, and booking details is available upon request. Email: mojdeh@poetrycenter.org

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Teaching Artists

Angela “Anjee-O” Oliver is a hybrid performing artist. Through poetry, song, comedy, and improv she seeks to inspire a greater interest in performance art that celebrates female empowerment, diversity, and individuality. She has performed at National and World Poetry Slams, founded and curates the Sweet & Sour Poetry Hour Showcase, is a recurring featured poet in the Beast Women Cabaret Series at the Greenhouse Theater, and an ensemble member for PREACH an improv poetry troop. Anjee-O has become a Chicago favorite known for her raw and candid depictions of an artist’s life, she is also a talented jazz singer and improv/sketch comedy actor and was most featured in Chicago’s 2013 Sketch Comedy Festival. She has also sung back-up for How Far to Austin at House of Blues Chicago and continues to perform poetry at various Chicago venues.

Felix Mayes is an East Coast transplant. He has had the opportunity to perform on stages from NJPAC to the Lincoln Center to Dvorák Hall in Prague, as a singer, actor, and dancer. He has participated in the Philly Fringe Festival and Irene Ryan Acting Festival, as well as the American College Dance Festival. Felix is a graduate a Muhlenberg College.

Jasmine Barber is an artist, educator, tarot reader, and cartoon lover from the Southside of Chicago. She has performed for various pieces of art for Steppenwolf, Common, Second City, Angela Davisin addition to becoming the 2013 Louder than A Bomb Indy College Slam Champ. Jasmine is currently working on a children's book and rap tape entitled “Tea Time With Dragons,” and has additionally been a teaching artist for the Hyde Park Art Center and Young Chicago Authors.

Jyreika “J.Evelyn” Guest moved to Chicago four years ago and is currently a House Ensemble member and Teaching Artist for Poetry Center of Chicago. She debuted in Chicago her one-woman show ‘Arn’t I Still: Lessons of Her, for the Solo Chicago Festival. She’s been featured in many festivals including Ravenswood Art Walk, Chicago’s own Beast Women: All Female Cabaret for two seasons, Still Point Theatre Collective’s “Strong Women,” a play created from poetry written by women, not just inmates of Cook County Jail. She uses her poetry and acting abilities to help motivate and inspire. In 2012, Ms. Guest opened for Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis performing her original piece, “Courage.” She treasures the opportunity to tell stories and to help others searching for their voice to find it, use it, and share it.

Luis “Logan Lu” Tubens was born in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood and raised in Logan Square. He earned a B.A. in Communications, media and theater from Northeastern Illinois University, and is the 2017 Artists in Residence at Oak Park Public Library. Luis has performed poetry with the GUILD COMPLEX, Tia Chucha Press, and the National Museum of Mexican Art, and toured Mexico City in 2016. He has also held workshops for the residents of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and students in the Chicago Public Schools. On stage, he has opened for notable acts including Saul Williams and Calle 13. In 2014, Luis Tubens joined the acclaimed Mental Graffiti National Poetry Slam Team. He is the author of Stone Eagle (2017) published by Bobbin Lace Press, Chicago. Currently, Luis is the resident poet for ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat and has been featured on both of their last 2 albums.

S. Mojdeh Stoakley, Education Director of Poets with Class at Poetry Center of Chicago
As the new Director of the National Poetry Slam, Mojdeh has represented Chicago multiple times at many competitions and taught youth in Louder Than A Bomb. She executive produced festivals like Lethal Poetry’s Nights of Sight & Sound, Art On Track, and Lethal Poetry. Since 14, Mojdeh has shared the stage with Saul Williams, Pere Ubu, Genesis P Oridge, John Legend, and Rainn Wilson. Her photography, writing, and contributions have been published by Button Poetry, WBEZ, Vocalo, Alarm Press, Chicago Now, and Muzzle Magazine, among others. She’s released 5 albums of music & poetry independently and as a member of »radiant devices«, and recently published her first book “born into dissonance.” Mojdeh received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the founder of Interfaith Poets, Lethal Poetry Inc., and LUCID Art Lab, and sits on the board of Surviving The Mic. When she’s not being a creative savant and community leader, she is engaged in HIV prevention research at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health.

Ona Wang is an educator, writer, artist, social justice advocate, Restorative Justice Peace Circle Keeper, and Kingian Nonviolence Trainer. Their work explores the intersection between social identities, building solidarity between movements, and personal narratives. They are committed to addressing complex and community trauma through restorative justice and creative arts. Ona serves as Director of Community Engagement and Organizing for Surviving the Mic, a collaborative spoken word organization dedicated to creating empowering creative spaces for survivors of trauma. Ona enjoys photography, painting, ceramics, travel, and learning.

Theresa Mathew is a full-time English teacher at Thomas Kelly High School by day and a social justice warrior, Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry coach, and hip hop dancing maven by night! She is deeply invested in making sure that youth have access to literature written by people of color, women, and those who are otherwise less read/heard and likewise she is equally invested in elevating the voices and capacities of youth that she works with through spoken word! Theresa is also the brand new mama of one of the worlds most adorable tiny humans, Levi Atticus Mathew!

TJ Medel is Jersey all day err day. In addition to being one of Poetry Center of Chicago’s teaching and touring artists he is a proud Second City Bob Curry Fellowship recipient and member of the All Asian Improv Group Stir-Friday Night, TJ works as a Teaching Artist in collaboration with Mudlark Children’s Theater Company, American Theater Company, and Second City’s Outreach and Inclusivity Program. He is an honored member of Theater Unspeakable, Hip-Hop collective Elephant Rebellion, and the director of the Improvised-Spoken Word group PREACH! Salamat sa aking pamilya para sa suporta.