Programs Spotlight: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at CPC’s New Video Series

Behind the Scenes of Our First Video Series:

Queen Zee’s Poetic Adventures

After months of project planning, script writing, and rehearsals, the Chicago Poetry Center filmed its first ever “poetry on demand” video series this month. Queen Zee’s Poetic Adventures, starring CPC Poet in Residence Leslie Reese, is a five-episode series that follows a mystical being and her band of friends through poetry lessons geared toward 2nd – 5th grade students.

Poet in Residence and Queen Zee star Leslie Reese rehearses with Director Christian Mejía.
CPC’s Executive Director, B Metzger Sampson, was on set during the shoot to serve as an executive producer and script supervisor.

“The set was a bustling place full of creatives doing amazing collaborative work. Our Director, Christian Mejía, and our Assistant Director, Henri Byrd, did a phenomenal job of ensuring the energy stayed sweet, creative, and calm to help Leslie Reese stay focused on her role as Queen Zee and ensure the project stayed on schedule,” B said.
Henry, an interstellar robot, delivers a student poem to Queen Zee.
The set of Queen Zee’s Poetic Adventures was full of crew members on lights, cameras, and sound. It took a village to make the production a success.

“When the art department wasn’t fitting monster masks, creating cardboard robots, or building portals to Chicago, you could usually find them getting into costume and making silly hat designs, which was a delight for us all. Full Spectrum Features producers made sure we had good food each day, and Motion Source Studio was a great home for this production,” explained B.
Monitors displaying multiple camera angles for a brainstorm session; Christian directs Leslie on set.
Now that on-set filming has wrapped, the production crew has one final day of filming on location across different Chicago communities with guest star, CPC Poet in Residence Noel Quiñones. CPC student Layla A. will record student poetry and be the voice of Henry, a robot that shares poems with Queen Zee. In the meantime, video editors are already working their magic to include Queen Zee’s animated friends and other fun FX.

Stay tuned for information on the forthcoming launch of Queen Zee’s Poetic Adventures!

This project is made possible with the generous support of the Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts. To learn more about Ralla Klepak’s legacy, check out this post.

Congratulations to Kristina Kim!

We are excited to welcome a long-time team member to a brand new role: Kristina Kim is now the Chicago Poetry Center’s Operations and Resource Coordinator!

Kristina joined the CPC team as our Web and Social Media Intern in 2019. Two years ago, she began managing and supporting other intern roles, and through her work, she’s had a hand in every aspect of the organization. We’re thrilled that she’ll continue to be an integral part of CPC!

Poet in Residence Spotlight: Joy Young

Poet in Residence Joy Young teaches at Hale Elementary and Shoesmith Elementary, her alma mater. Click here to watch her “Day in the Life of a Poet in Residence” feature and see her teach a lesson on self-portrait poems at Shoesmith.
“My favorite thing about being a Poet in Residence is getting to see the creativity and insight of my students. I’m in awe of the opinions they have about current issues and how they see the world around them. In their residencies, they have discussed gun violence, bullying, and mental health.

A memorable moment from teaching this school year was when 5th and 6th grade students at Shoesmith Elementary wrote self-portrait poems. They wrote about how they saw themselves and how they wanted others to see them. I was extremely moved by their responses. One student wrote,

‘Paint me with confidence that stands over the roof / Paint me without emptiness / Paint me without trauma/ Paint me with shooting stars'”


Thank you for supporting

the Chicago Poetry Center!

Arts Education Programming Made Possible with Support by our Partners:



“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.