Ms. Faith, the Librarian at Sherman Park Branch, has "hit the ground running" since she began working for Chicago Public Library in March 2017. From arts and crafts, writing, STEM and technology workshop to field trips, the program offerings she's developed vary greatly and are numerous.
The Cinderella Project, for instance, is where Tia and Marketta (along with several others) were creating a dress out of duct tape for a gift prize raffle at an end-of-summer showcase scheduled at the nearby Chicago Public Library Kelly Branch. It was during this program that they shared the story of becoming poets, with thanks to Ms. Faith.
Tia explained, "We started writing poems at the beginning of the year." Ms. Faith interjected "they are using poetry as an avenue for creating change" through a Teen Hip Hop & Poetry series offered on Thursdays. Marketta added, "I always perform at the Open Mic. I like that I can actually come up with something good in a short amount of time."
Ms. Faith shared with the teens that she competed in her very first Open Mic competition (hosted by Little Black Pearl) at age 16, and won a second place prize of $75. Prior to earning her Master's Degree in Library and Information Science, Ms. Faith earned her Bachelor’s Degree in poetry from Columbia College. She's continues to perform poetry and surround herself and now the teens with a community of creative, literary people. Several guest poets have visited Sherman Park since Faith's arrival.
Tia explained she liked writing, but said "I didn’t know about poetry until Faith came. [Since then], I wrote a lot of stuff. Teen stuff." Even Tia's older sister became interested and wrote and read some poems at the branch's Open Mic program. Marketta happily noted, "I can write two [poems] in thirty minutes when I have different topics from Ms. Faith." She explained Ms. Faith provides prompts and mini-lessons for them, and they she professed, "we pay good attention because there’s a pop quiz with prizes at the end."
With Tia's permission, Ms. Faith shared Marketta's poem "Always Daddy's Little Girl" and Tia's poem "Love You to Pieces," below.
Love You to Pieces by Tiamoni (Tia) I love the way you kiss my forehead I love the way you are always there for me “I love you to pieces.” I love the way you try your best to understand my P.O.V. Seeing you makes my life better Without you I am nothing. “I love you to pieces.” The day you gave birth to me, I knew that you will forever stand by my side. I love your tough love I love the way you are there when I cry. You are there to tell me these boys are not worth my time. “I love you to pieces.” Mother you are my sunshine, you are my ride or die. I would give up everything to see you happy. Mother, “I love you to pieces.”
Always Daddy’s Little Girl by Marketta My dad was my hero. I always felt safe when I was around him. My dad taught me things, But not just anything. He taught me that a man should Treat a woman with the upmost respect, And that I should never settle for anything less. At one point in my life I did settle for less. My dad saved me because that little girl is still in me. And she hung on to all them happy and fun times That she shared with her dad. His love and strength pointed me down a path Where I found myself again. I hope this inspires women to remember That it’s always a little girl in them And to never settle for less.
CPL offers a number of other teen Open Mic programs across the city; check them out here!