Whirlwind Learning Center Poetry Series at CCA Academy PermaPark

Join us for an afternoon of creative writing at The Living Room, an outdoor classroom space designed by The Bittertang Farm at CCA Academy PermaPark. This workshop provides a place for young people to unlock their inner voices through creative thinking, experimentation, and collaboration. Participants will learn about the poetry writing process and get a chance to perform their materials in a Student Open Mic. Tara Betts, founder of Whirlwind Learning Center, and Julian Randall, Chicago based writer and poet, will lead this workshop.

No prior experience with poetry is necessary, all levels of student writers are welcome. Supplies and materials will be provided. 

This program is presented in partnership with The Poetry Foundation and Whirlwind Learning Center.


Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and the forthcoming Refuse to Disappear. In addition to working as an editor and a teaching artist and mentor for poets, she has taught at several universities. She is the Inaugural Poet for the People Practitioner Fellow at University of Chicago and founder of Whirlwind Learning Center. Tara can be found on twitter at @tarabetts and on instagram at @chitownbetts. 

Julian Randall is from Chicago. In 2015, he was named the National College Slam Best Poet. His essays have been published in Vibe, Black Nerd Problems, and The Atlantic. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Ole Miss. Julian is the author of Refuse (Pitt, 2018), winner of the 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2019 NAACP Image Award in Poetry and the forthcoming Middle Grade Fantasy Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa (Holt, 2022). 

Whirlwind Learning Center provides educational classes and events related to arts, culture, well-being, and community issues relevant to residents of the South Side, with an emphasis on African American residents. Our services will include organizing and curating cultural classes and events, providing space for artists and community members to meet and host events, and providing resources to meet essential human needs so the above interests are easier to reach. As schools have closed on Chicago’s South Side and many cultural spaces are distanced in the city’s downtown and North Side areas, it’s obvious how segregation has limited space and access to cultural resources. The Whirlwind shares information about other organizations and resources that are more accessible and facilitate activities.

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation works to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in our culture. The Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry.

Image courtesy of CCA Academy PermaPark.