Posted by: jeannineatkins | December 8, 2011

The Care Center: Reading and Writing Poetry with Teen Mothers

Today I read and talked about poetry at the Care Center in Holyoke, MA. Strollers and car seats were stashed in corridors  filled with displays of poetry, photographs, and paintings done by students. Babies and small children are watched downstairs while their mothers take classes to earn a GED or prepare for college. The Care Center was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama last month with one of twelve National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, recognizing them for their poetry program and courses in the humanities.

On a bulletin board downstairs, were typed poems that my book Borrowed Names had inspired. I was given a copy of Nautilus II: Poetry and Art by Young Mothers Studying at the Care Center, which they all signed. Here I am signing books the girls were given as part of the program.

Here are two great writers who lingered after the workshop in which brave people read new words, and there was much mention of love. I liked their tradition of ending a reading with “to be continued…” Works better than “the end.”


And here I am with Tzivia Gover who runs the poetry program with grace. You can click on her link to read more about her experiences teaching poetry to teen mothers (“Not a Luxury”)  or still more in her recently published book, Learning in Mrs. Towne’s House, which I found riveting.


It was wonderful to see a bit of the past touch the present, in a day when the word “inspiration” was heard more than once. Thank you, everyone at the Care Center for the warm welcome and including me in your creative work!





  1. Such a fine thing, Jeannine. A mutual gift. Were you reminded a bit of Make Lemonade? Glad to learn of Tzivia Gover’s book.

  2. Sarah, you would enjoy Tzivia’s book about the power of poetry and how a volunteer job turned into a vocation, among other things.

    I didn’t think of Make Lemonade while there — partly, I suppose, because those car seats and strollers were empty: I didn’t glimpse a small child. But now that you mention it, I suppose Jolly was there, and thankfully an incarnation of LaVaughn’s mom keeping some priorities straight.

  3. Thank you for this lovely blog post! I’ll share it with our students 🙂 We loved our visit with you. Hopefully we can type our poems Monday and send you copies!

  4. Thanks, Tzivia! I’ll look forward to reading some poems. (and hoping to hear more about the girl who sees herself as the Taj Mahal!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: