Poetry Programs Spotlight: Blues Poems & Season’s Greetings

Singing the Blues
with the Chicago Poetry Center!


With the dark, chilly days of winter upon us, it’s only natural to feel a little blue. During a recent lesson at Avondale-Logandale Elementary, Poet in Residence Leslie Reese introduced Blues poetry to 5th graders with a fun activity. After delighting students with a performance by Pretty Bones Jefferson (Leslie’s Blues alter ego), she gave them a “Blues name generator” to help them discover their own Blues names.


Students in virtual residencies communicate by video, voice, chat, and whiteboard. One student used a whiteboard to let Ms. Leslie know how much the class missed her.


Following Leslie’s lead, students transformed into their own Blues alter egos with names like Sleepy Foot Jones. One student wrote a poem about missing her friend who transferred to a different school. Another student wrote his rhymed lament about a late family pet. Finding a way to express ourselves is as important at five-years-old as it is at fifty-five-years-old. Through her lessons, Ms. Leslie has created a safe and supportive environment where students can share their joys, sorrows, and everything in between.


During a particularly complex holiday season that may have some extra doses of blues and happiness, the Chicago Poetry Center wishes you all a happy and healthy new year. Below you’ll find “How to Make a Friend,” a love poem from home by a student named Lacey. We’ve also included our collaborative poem and links to recent student work as a gift of poetry to close out the year.


New Poetry on the Student Poems Blog

“My eyes should be rounder ovals like the shape of a falling water drop. / The background must be in the paradises of Puerto Rico, with beautiful culture and spice of people dancing and singing and playing in the sand.” – Bryan R. from Taft Freshman Academy. Click the banner to read more portrait poems.


“The people / in the theater / despise us / Wanting / us to be quiet / They look / mad / The sounds / of people mumbling / and the popcorn / crumbling” – Camilla P. from Haugan Elementary. Read more poems about place by clicking the banner above.


Support Residencies, Support Students


Watch Lacey read her love poem from home
entitled “How to Make a Friend.”


Click on the image above to make a year-end donation to the Chicago Poetry Center.


A Farewell to 2020

Did you catch our collaborative poem in the December Reading Series Spotlight? If not, check out this video for messages on gratitude, perseverance, and hope from Chicago Poetry Center’s Board members, Poets in Residence, Curriculum Designers, and staff.


We look forward to sharing even more about our programs in 2021.

Have a joyful and safe holiday season!


This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency. Additional support from the City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.





“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.