Youth Literary Arts

For over 25 years Woodland Pattern's Youth Literary Arts Program has worked with Milwaukee Public Schools, the Community Development Grants Administration, and youth-enrichment organizations like UWM Talent Search to bring year-round multi-arts education to students who may not otherwise have access to it. Our vast network of artists and writers, developed over the years, enables us to offer a variety of courses and experiences with a strong focus in the literary arts to community youth, both at Woodland Pattern and in nearby schools.

Each year, the YLAP provides after-school arts and literature programming to approximately 300 MPS students, who also visit Woodland Pattern to engage with art exhibits, with the books at the center, and with visiting writers and artists. In a series of themed projects that build upon one another, students read and discuss literature and create writing and artwork pertaining to multiple topics in the humanities, including identity, heritage, and culture. The YLAP currently serves Riverwest Elementary School and Hopkins Lloyd Community School students during Community Learning Center hours.


The YLAP also hosts two inter-arts summer Poetry Camps, which are offered completely free of charge to students and include meals, daily writing prompts and activities, workshops with guest artists, field trips, and a student-led community poetry reading. At the end of camp, students also receive an anthology of their writing and $100 credit toward books of their choice to help build their personal libraries. Approximately 60 students participate over the course of both weeks. 

In 2018, Woodland Pattern's YLAP expanded with the initiation of the Milwaukee Queer Writing Project, a series of bi-weekly after-school writing workshops for LGBTQIA youth led by queer-identifying writing teachers in partnership with Gay-Straight Alliance chapters at local high schools. Students write poetry and prose, read/perform their work, and have opportunities to engage with Woodland Pattern-hosted LGBTQIA visiting writers. The program takes place in the fall and spring semesters, with each semester culminating in a keystone reading at Woodland Pattern. 



Since 1999, our summer Poetry Camps have touched approximately 1,500 young lives in Milwaukee while also supporting the careers of some of the city’s most outstanding teaching artists and youth advocates. Both poetry-centric and multidisciplinary in focus, Poetry Camp offers a range of creative activities and formative experiences that help students aged 12–18 find and celebrate their voices. Each year, we offer two one-week sessions—including instruction, meals, field trips, and a $100 book allowance—completely free of cost to families. 

Core instructors in 2020 included poets and multidisciplinary artists Virnette Adams, Franklin K.R. Cline, Steffon 'Brooklyn' Dixon, Nick DrainDestinny Fletcher, and George Jones. Guest workshops featured Kwabena Antoine Nixon, Mahogany L. Browne, Heather ‘Byrd’ Roberts, and LaNia Sproles.

To learn more about this program, contact Education Director Alexa Nutile.

"Diversity Is Normality," Woodland Pattern Poetry Camp 2018, Week 1 

We acknowledge that in Milwaukee we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami, part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present. 

We further acknowledge the grave evil colonialism introduced to these lands ​through genocide as well as slavery, and also via racist and xenophobic ​beliefs, laws​, and practices that continue to inflict harm upon Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives. We honor those who have lived—and do live, now—at these intersections of identity and experience, and are committed to the active dismantling of white supremacy.

Read our statement on racial justice

720 E. Locust Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414 263 5001

Hours: Tues–Fri | 11-8pm

Sat & Sun | 12–5 pm | Closed Mon

Contactless pick-up: Wed–Fri | 2–6 pm, Sat | 2–5 pm

Building Accessibility: Despite the age of our physical location, and attendant limitations to access, Woodland Pattern is committed to making its programs and facilities available for as many as possible. Please call for more information.

Events Accessibility: Woodland Pattern is in the process of obtaining captioning services for its online events and can provide ASL interpretation for live events. Please contact us with accommodation requests and questions.

© Woodland Pattern 2020