And welcome to the weekly blog we call the Lesson! Every Wednesday we will invite you to express yourselves by making lists, responding to prompts, and reading texts. Many of these prompts were developed by the YCA Artistic team for our weekly writing workshops, Check The Methodand Wordplay. If you write poems to these prompts or have thoughts on the readings tag us in your own social media posts (@youngchiauthors on Twitter & @youngchicagoauthors on Instagram).
This writing prompt comes from Check The Method and features two poems by DC-based poet Safia Elhillo from her collection The January Children. Safia's poems inspired
us to reimagine stories from our personal history using specific details and vivid imagery. If you enjoy this prompt consider registering for our Write
to the City summer camp this summer from July 10th-14th, where Safia will be one of the visiting teaching artists.
Imagine your parents as younger versions of themselves and answer the following questions:
What are they wearing?
What do they do for work?
What is their jam (favorite song)?
What are their bad habits or guilty pleasures?
the last time marvin gaye was heard in the sudan by Safia Elhillo
the lovers by Safia Elhillo
Write a poem telling the mythology of your parents meeting. Try to be as detailed as possible. Feel free to imagine and invent parts of the story you don’t know.
Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, she received a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee, co-winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize, and winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, and Crescendo Literary and The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator. In addition to appearing in several journals and anthologies including “The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop,” her work has been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Estonian, and Greek. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology “Halal If You Hear Me.” Safia has performed at venues such as TEDxNewYork, the South African State Theatre, the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway, and TV1’s Verses & Flow. She was a founding member of Slam NYU, the 2012 and 2013 national collegiate championship team, and was a three-time member and former coach of the DC Youth Slam Poetry team. She is currently a teaching artist with Split This Rock.