Spoken word

Spoken word is poetry that is written on a page but performed for an audience. Because it is performed, this poetry tends to use rhythm, improvisation, rhymes, rich poetic phrases, word play, and slang.

Create your own

Put words on a page. Write about what's going on. Tell your story your way. Read and watch other artists for inspiration. Keep a notebook. Perform.

Start with

When you are getting started with poetry you can begin by free writing. Free writing is just writing whatever comes to your mind ("stream of consciousness"). Anything can be written on the page; there's no wrong or right answer.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and write for the whole time, never lifting your pencil off the page. Think about things going on: in your life, in the world or in your community. It can be as simple as making a list, like "A list of people I miss."

Then try

Keep working to find and tell your own story. Start thinking about your life experiences in ways that you can portray in your writing.

For example, if your experience is that your walks home from school aren't safe, then a unique way to approach that story could be to list 10 ways to protect yourself while walking home from school.

Check out more writing prompts from Young Chicago Authors for some more ideas.

Keep going

Find other writers and artists who you can learn and draw inspiration from. Pick two of their poems that you really like. What do you like? What are they doing really well? Compare and contrast those pieces and write a poem inspired by those texts.

Keep a notebook or journal of ideas that you have about writing and the stories that you want to tell. Use it to remember the writing, art, and performances that you want to learn from or write about.

Focus on the performance of your poetry – what does your voice sound like for each line?

Workshops & Events


Hiphop Peace Circles

Email circles.ciphers@gmail.com for more info
Organized by Circles & Ciphers
Time: Thursdays 5-8pm
Location: 1545 W. Morse Avenue (email first)
Contact us:Please email before visiting: circles.ciphers@gmail.com
Cost: FREE

Drop In Hip Hop Arts Programs

Organized by Kuumba Lynx
Time: Summer: Monday-Friday 9am-3pm
Fall & Spring: Monday-Friday 4-8pm
Location: 4501 N. Clarendon
Contact us: call 773-569-2103 to confirm
Cost: FREE


A writing workshop and open mic
Organised by Young Chicago Authors
Check website
Time: Tuesdays 6-7pm workshop & 7-9pm openmic
Location: 1180 N Milwaukee Ave #2
Contact us: call 773-486-4331 to confirm
Cost: FREE

Young Women on the Move

Organized by Global Girls, Inc.
Time: Saturdays 10am-3pm
Location: 8151 S. South Chicago Ave.
Contact us: call 773-902-2359 to confirm
Cost: FREE


Louder Than A Bomb

Youth Poetry Festival
Organized by Young Chicago Authors
Check website for this year's info
Time: February through March
Location: Venues around Chicago
Cost: 10 and up to watch, $30 and up to compete