Miami High School recently brought a group of poet-teachers to its campus, the L.A. Street Poets, a nonprofit organization that goes into classrooms to teach poetry as a means to “transformational change,” and as a tool for healing.
Poets Frank Escamilla and Maira Rios used their art form to teach English students confidence in their own words and to not be ashamed to share ideas with fellow classmates.
Escamilla, Director of School and Community Programs, led the class, ensuring that all students were heard and respected by their peers.
Focusing on respect and an agreement to create a “brave and safe space,” he welcomed the students tell their stories.
“If we don’t tell our own stories, somebody else will,” Escamilla said. “But do they always get it right?”
Students were then invited to do a free-writing session, with open parameters.
“It doesn’t have to rhyme and spelling at punctuation don’t matter,” he said. “That part comes later.”
To set the mood for writing, Rios, Director of Operations for L.A. Street Poets, read the work of a former student to get ideas flowing for the class and then unleashed them to write for 10 minutes. After, several brave students read their work aloud to classmates.
Street Poets, Inc. is a nonproﬁt, poetry-based, peace-making organization dedicated to the creative process as a force for individual and community transformation.
In 2005, Street Poets Inc., became an independent California nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation.
For more about L.A. Street Poets, go to streetpoetsinc.com.
Photo tagline: Poet Maira Rios reads aloud to students in a Miami High School English class while Frank Escamilla looks on. Photo by Mary Yazzie.
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.