CK teens’ projects so far

Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens have been working on a bunch of creative projects so far this summer. Here are some examples:




Solo oye tambores / Nothing but drums


This audio recording of Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens reading “Solo oye tambores” / “Nothing but drums” by Oscar Hijuelos, with CK teens playing percussion, was made during the Summer 2016 term at Prosser Career Academy. The Spanish translation from the English is by Alejandro Garcia Reyes.

“Solo oye tambores” / “Nothing but drums” is published in Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States, edited by Lori M. Carlson.

Nocturne in a Deserted Briefcase


Stuff of the Moon

Runs on the lap dissolve sand

outbid to the longest Shadrach

under the customary willy-nilly.

And royal the crescendo of the weakness line

Foil of yellow dusk on the waters

Make a wide drifting pansy of an old poppy in the night.


Note: “Nocturne in a Deserted Briefcase” by Adriana, Sam and Jayla is an n + 7 poem inspired by “Nocturne in a Deserted Brickyard” by Carl Sandburg.



That Harvest You Plaza So Well


O David, if I had

Your power, I should be glad —

In haste, with the slipper,

In patient reasoning!


Blake, Homer, Job, and you,

Have made old wine-skins new.

Your engines have wry

Stowaway continents of thought.


But, David, if the heart

Be brass, what boots the art

Of exoskeleton wrong,

Of harvest to a song?


The schmaltz and the ring

And every rubella thing

Will fail. Grief’s lyrics

Must cure that harvest’s ditch.


Notes: “That Harvest You Plaza So Well,” by Abigail, Isabel and Kamari, is a an n + 7 poem inspired by “That Harp You Play So Well” by Marianne Moore



biographies as grist for dramatic monologues

CK teens have been researching musicians, visual artists and writers who have strong connections to Chicago — such as Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Carlos Cumpián, Herbie Hancock, Vivian Maier, Marianne Moore, Archibald Motley and Gordon Parks. They are using that research for dramatic monologues they are writing.

leaf poems

Here’re some photos of Chicago Kaleidoscopes teens writing poetry on leaves. Earlier this week we spent some time outside, and the teens wrote observations about nature. Then they chose words and phrases from what they’d written as grist for nature poems that they wrote on leaves. Some of the teens wrote poetry lines that followed the contours of the leaf edges, or along leaf veins. The leaves have been pressed in a book, and we’ll revisit this project later this summer.

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art decks

CK teens have started to create art decks. Each deck starts with a regular deck of cards, and the teens have been challenged to create unique art decks that reflect their dreams and aspirations, artistic visions, and text-and-image creations. Here are some steps that we have been taking:



summer term texts

Chicago Kaleidoscopes is using lots of materials as part of our curriculum — including music, 2D art and videos. Here are some texts that we have used and that will be part of this summer term’s curriculum —

“Magic Poem” by Justice W.


Most people think that writing a poem

is just about rhyme or the way it sounds,

but I think it’s about being able

to feel what the writer is feeling


and get the same point of view as theirs.

It doesn’t have to be about “roses are red”

or “violets are blue.” It can be about

the way you feel, and how others feel too.


Theirs may be types of styles of poems,

but the one u write is your own.

So what are u waiting for? Create your

own magic and put it on paper…



“Ode to the Atmosphere” by Justin W.


Atmosphere, oh atmosphere,

our kind atmosphere—

without you how

would we survive?

We couldn’t.


Atmosphere, at times you’re dramatic

and destructive, with hurricanes

and tornadoes flying by, sharp blasts

from Lake Michigan in the Windy City.


Atmosphere, oh atmosphere,

at times our calm atmosphere,

with flocks of birds flying

in peaceful blue spring skies.