Youth Literary Arts

Since 1999, 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.

Finally, Woodland Pattern is the adminstrator of the Milwaukee Youth Poet Laureate program, which was launched in 2022. For more information on that program, click here.


June 17–21 (week 1) & June 24–28 (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 a light 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: 

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.


Woodland Pattern is currently looking to hire TWO Milwaukee high school students (ages 16+) as part of the Milwaukee Recreations Arts Internship Program! 

Position Description: The Youth Literary Arts Program Assistants will work with the Education Director and assist in planning, executing, and recording programming activities for Woodland Pattern’s Poetry Camp and Summer Community Learning Center (CLC) programs. This includes working alongside local artist educators to teach creative writing and other art workshops and providing assistance to students participating in both programs. Interns will practice writing and working in different mediums as they create art with youth (ages 9-17).

Start/end dates:  June 10 – August 16, 2024

Schedule: Poetry Camp: June 17-21 OR June 24-28, Monday-Friday, 8:30AM-4:30PM (plus, 6 hours during the week of June 10-15 for training/preparation); Summer CLC Program: July 1–August 1, once a week (Tu, Wed, or Thur) for 2 hours (TBD between 9 AM and 2 PM)

Internships Available: 2

Compensation: $12.50/hr

To apply: Visit Milwaukee Recreation: Arts Internship for the full application and guidelines.

Questions? Contact: Alexa Nutile, Education Director

"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.

© Woodland Pattern 2024