Poeteen Feature in New Avenues Newsletter!

Check out this awesome feature on Poeteen in the New Avenues For Youth newsletter, pasted below ( http://newavenues.org/poeteen/):

the power of poetry

Finding ways to connect with and teach youth who may have not experienced success in a typical classroom is a priority for New Avenues’ Alternative School.   And a local teen group called Poeteen is helping us do that through poetry!   

Held once a month, students from this Lincoln High School organization facilitate a poetry workshop with students in our Alternative School.  Workshop activities and discussions include free-writes, poetry readings, discussions about poetry in general as well as about specific pieces, and slam-poetry performances. New Avenues Teacher and Jesuit Volunteer Jessica Foley says, “It has been a great creative outlet for the youth we serve.”

Founded in 2015 by Sophia Mautz, a then junior at Lincoln High School, Poeteen was created to “not only revive the life of poetry among teens, but also have teenagers help their peers by introducing them to poetry and allowing them to experience its healing qualities.”

“Working with New Avenues has been an eye-opening experience,” says Sophia. “These young people have such open hearts and such shockingly beautiful minds. It has been amazing to witness the transformative power poetry can have in providing a means for people to find their voice, and use it. They actively participate in all discussions and exercises, and share their thoughts by being vulnerable and brave. Not only can reading other people’s poems provide a buoy of hope, but it can also serve as inspiration to become the next Maya Angelou or Edgar Allen Poe — the possibilities are boundless, and witnessing this all has been so inspiring.”

To find out more about Poeteen, go to http://www.poeteen.com/

Why study poetry? According to recent studies, poetry can:

  • increase students’ literacy and linguistic awareness
  • help students expand their oral and written vocabularies
  • increase critical analysis skills
  • encourages creative expression
  • provides connection and encourages empathy for others

Poeteen Teaming up with Camions of Care

Poeteen Executive Director Sophia Mautz wrote this poem about women's menstruation in a collaborative effort to partner with Camions of Care, a 501(c)(3) non profit that provides menstrual hygiene products to homeless women! This poem will be read at Camions of Care's "Period Prom" on June 1st. Using the power of poetry to empower women and destigmatize periods!

to all the menstruating sisters

so it is our river you’ve come to bathe in.

narrow islets part like a thin bird spreading its wings

the channel is open, the deep earth is open.

come out.


this fluid magnetism considers nothing

as it spills over edges, seeps into cracks, stains everything

with its glittering presence.


so it was this red river

that wound its way between our legs

that has given us release.


like clockwork

you stood at the sink husking summer corn

shedding the feeble green leaves as one must

to reach the golden ears.


    like shedding the endometrium

    that has thickened with our life’s blood

        plush and awaiting

the release of the luminous egg.


so we grow anew. we dig our hands into the earth

and labor, plant.


a thousand poppies have crushed themselves,

pressed their thin silks together until

there were no more boundaries,

and floated through us.


our bodies are slick with the juices of the strawberry,

the apple, the pomegranate,

the red soil, coppery and unapologetic,

this inevitable ritual.


to be in the female body is to be

a ripe fruit, tough and tender;

to be in the female body is to be

as strong as the red poppies that push

their heads out from under the deep earth’s core,

year after year after year–


to be in the female body is to be

the most divine natural force in the world.

First Poeteen Meeting

At our first meeting, we read 'Still I Rise' by Maya Angelou:

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 1928 - 2014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.





The First Poem

Mary Oliver

The poppies send up their
orange flares; swaying
in the wind, their congregations
are a levitation

of bright dust, of thin
and lacy leaves.
There isn’t a place
in this world that doesn’t

sooner or later drown
in the indigos of darkness,
but now, for a while,
the roughage

shines like a miracle
as it floats above everything
with its yellow hair.
Of course nothing stops the cold,

black, curved blade
from hooking forward—
of course
loss is the great lesson.

But I also say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness,
and that happiness,

when it’s done right,
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.
Inside the bright fields,

touched by their rough and spongy gold,
I am washed and washed
in the river
of earthly delight—

and what are you going to do—
what can you do
about it—
deep, blue night?


To give some context: this poem was the first poem I'd ever read, so it's only fitting that it should be the first poem I share with all of you. It sucked me right in to the world of poetry, and I've never looked back. It remains my favorite poem by my favorite poet, paired with a lovely Rothko painting to visually embody the words. Enjoy–

 Mark Rothko. No. 36 (Black Stripe). Oil on canvas. 1958. googleimages.com