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.


June 20–24 (week 1) & June 27–July 1 (week 2) | 8:30 am–3:30 pm

Woodland Pattern’s Poetry Camp is a free-of-cost, five-day, inter-arts camp aimed at helping young people embrace their own stories and feel confident about telling them! Each day includes breakfast, two hours of focused writing, a workshop with a guest artist, lunch, and a field trip. Throughout the week, students write and participate in a range of creative activities, working not only with poets and spoken word artists, but also with actors, performance coaches, musicians, and visual artists. By the end of the week, students have produced various art works, and created a body of new writing that is performed before the community and commemorated in print. At the end of camp, each student also receives a $100 Woodland Pattern gift card to purchase books of their choosing to help build their personal libraries.

Poetry Camp is open to Milwaukee youth entering grades 6–12. Both weeks will offer a very similar experience. Please choose only one week, as space is limited. We will be implementing procedures to create a safe environment for all. Scroll for details.

Questions? Contact: Alexa Nutile, Education Director


COVID-19 Safety Protocol: 

The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance. To that end, we have reduced our enrollment to 20 students who will be divided into two groups, and have adjusted our format to include field trips where we will utilize outdoor spaces as well as large indoor spaces such as museums, with large meeting rooms. 

Daily check-in procedures will be in place. We will rely on masks, frequent hand washing/sanitizing and cleaning, and social distancing to make Poetry Camp safe. 

Should we determine it is no longer safe to carry out in-person programming, Poetry Camp will be moved to a virtual platform.

PAID MPS ARTS INTERNSHIP at Woodland Pattern Book Center

Poets and Writers! We are looking for a dedicated and creative MPS high-school student to help us run our Summer Youth Poetry Camps and Youth Literary Arts Programs.

Position Description: The Literary Arts Program Assistant will work alongside the Education Director and assist in all aspects of planning, executing, and recording programming activities for Woodland Pattern’s Poetry Camp and Summer CLC programs. This includes, but is not limited to, lesson planning, materials preparation, documenting and reporting daily activities, and mentoring children of all ages and backgrounds. Ideal candidates will have strong writing and organizational skills with an interest in poetry, the arts, and working with children.

Artistic Development & Training: Throughout this internship, you will be immersed in teaching, writing, and artistic production, working with a team of diverse writing instructors and guest artists. You will have the opportunity to practice writing and working in different mediums as you create art with students. You will gain experience and confidence in mentoring students, expand your artistic network, and receive job experience and training in the arts.

Type of work: In-person

Start/end dates: June 10 – August 11, 2022

Schedule: Monday-Friday from 8:00-4:00 June 20-24 & June 27-July 1, with a lunch break built in, and up to eight hours a week between 9am-5pm (exact times are flexible) July 5-28. 

Qualifications: Applicants must be a City of Milwaukee resident or an MPS high school student and at least 15 years old.

Compensation: $9.50/hr

To apply: Visit for the full application and guidelines.

Deadline to apply: Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Questions? Contact: Alexa Nutile, Education Director

Exterior image of Woodland Pattern with a group from the Youth Literary Arts Program engaged in conversation
Photo of Poetry Camp students reading at the Milwaukee Art Museum
"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–Sun | 12-7 pm

Closed Mon

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 able to offer captioning services for its online events and with advanced notice can provide ASL interpretation for live events. Please contact us with accommodation requests and questions.

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