Poetry helps kids learn how to read, write, and understand any text

It’s so funny how resistant kids are in the beginning to the idea of writing and reading poetry. So are a lot of us adults for that matter! But when we tell the kids in The Gloster Arts Camp that they must write a poem,  their eyes roll around in their heads like giant marbles. And the sucking of teeth begins in rhythm, like a bunch of cicadas on a hot summer night. “Do we have to?” They groan.

But when our superb poetry teaching artists, Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Quincy Troupe, introduce the kids to poems that are close in form, rhythm, cadence, language, and sonic structure to the music they know and love to listen to everyday, like rap, the blues, and gospel, and couple that with with the fact that they can write about anything at all, that’s when the light bulb goes on and the magic begins.

Poems by notable writers from their home state, such as former US Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, and others whose poems speak to the African American experience, such as Henry Dumas bring the message home loud and clear. Poetry is music and music is language. Not only that, the other benefits of this art form show its value:

“Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills,” wrote Andrew  Simmons in the August 8, 2014 The Atlantic magazine. Writing poetry improves kids’ listening, speaking, and performing skills. Most importantly, it improves their editing (translated: thinking) skills. That’s why poetry is so fundamental to the arts activities  kids engage in during our summer arts camp in rural Gloster, Mississippi, every July.

All of us crave attention and recognition, and we end our summer camp with a final performance where kids get to show off the skills they’ve learned and the talents they’ve discovered during their time at camp in front of an audience of family and friends. At first they tremble at the thought of speaking in public, but when they do get up their nerves to face a live audience, the applause they receive fills their chests with pride and a new confidence is born. To top it off, at the end of the summer, we publish their poems in a chapbook, which we give to all the campers who’ve now become published poets! It’s an experience that will last a lifetime.

Enjoy this chapbook from last summer a stunning achievement after just 3-weeks and DONATE TODAY, so we can keep returning to Gloster to give the kids there a life-sustaining skill and an unforgettable summer experience. The Gloster Arts Project makes a difference. So can you!


The Gloster Project is a 501c3 nonprofit. Our programs are mad possible in part with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and major funding provided by Drax Biomass USA and the Values! First Foundation.

The Gloster Arts Project, 1925 7th Avenue No. 7L, New York, NY 10026 Tel: 212-749-7771 or email theglosterartsproject@gmail.com. www.theglosterproject.org