Phoenix Military Academy student Coraima Sanchez scratches poetry onto a school desk inside the Poetry Foundation during the "From Within" performance. Credit: Photo by Max Herman

Nearly three dozen student poets from Phoenix Military Academy shared their experiences with urban violence through a recent interactive performance at the Poetry Foundation in downtown Chicago.

The project is called “Just Yell: Poetry as Self Defense” and it’s the first in an ongoing series of publicly-engaged installation performances around issues of violence and Chicago’s youth. It was organized in collaboration with artist Cheryl Pope and the group, Project&.

“Representing an average Chicago Public School class size, the 32 young Chicago writers carve poems into the surface of school desks in this interactive installation,” according to a description of the event. “Students will invite viewers for a walk where they will share a spoken poem during an intimate one to one exchange.”

Photographer Max Herman covered the event for Catalyst.


Melissa Sanchez is a reporter for The Chicago Reporter. Email her at and follow her on Twitter at @msanchezMIA.

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