Sinclair Alternative High School Poetry Bash

by Erin Brown

Literature for All of Us celebrated the end of another successful school year at Upton Sinclair Alternative High School with our annual Poetry Bash. Students, teachers, book group leaders, and board members gathered at the Poetry Foundation in downtown Chicago to honor the words and voices of over 70 young people—all participants in our weekly book groups at Sinclair, located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

Students performed poems from the most recent anthology of their work, “The Journey Inside,” enjoyed cupcakes and free books, and reflected on a year of laughter, sharing, and growth in book group.

Special guests included local spoken word performers Amber Whitted and Jeronimo, as well as writer, musician, and Literature for All of Us alumnus Jersualem Singleton. Thank you to these inspiring performers, as well as to the staff of the Poetry Foundation, for helping to make our time together in the space a joyful and poignant celebration.

One of our graduates this year brought this poem to the mic, and was met with the thunderous applause of her peers:

I Carry
by Janette Rojas

On my shoulders I carry
a marriage that didn’t work.
In my ears I carry
the words of my father telling me
to be something in life
and to help my mother and siblings.
On my tongue I carry
words of self-defense.
On my fingertips I carry
power to help me in life
and to move forward.
On my hips I carry self-