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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Rockford Poet Sprinkles His Poetry Glitter In Workshop Series


A Rockford poet is showing fellow writers how to bring their words to life in a new poetry workshop series.

Christopher D. Sims said he’s done spoken word poetry for over 20 years. He’s now partnering with Rockford performing arts venue The West Side Show Roomin a workshop series called Graffiti Flow: Write and Perform Spoken Word Poetry. He mentioned that a friend introduced him to the venue's artistic director Mike Werckle.  

“Mike had been watching me and seeing my work and had heard about me,” Sims explained. “I’m thankful that in this community that my name is around and people know what I've done and have accomplished over the years.” 

Sims shared that writers across generations are taking part in the online workshops, which started back in October. There are only a couple left in the series. Sims said the workshops are more beneficial if taken from beginning to end but he said people can still join the fun. Sims explained that he is willing to adapt to whatever the audience needs. 

Sims is sharing a small piece of advice for those who aren’t taking part in the series. He explained how he remembers his words for performance.      

“I wouldn’t move to the next stanza until I had that first stanza memorized. So, memorizing one stanza and then the next and then the next, and then the next and then afterwards, I'm reciting the whole piece until its almost flawless,” he said.  

Sims stated that the pandemic is bringing out the creativity in people and he is noticing more collaborations with different artists. He said he is working with a group in Madison, Wisconsin for a live event that will take place in December.

“And one here in Rockford is actually called ‘Use Your Words’ that's happening every month and twice a month actually,” he shared. 

Sims said participants have to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines.

The next sessions for “Graffiti Flow” take place on Nov. 12 and 17th.

Sims is a contributor to WNIJ’s Poetically Yours segment.   

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.

Yvonne covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This could include how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities. Boose is a recent graduate of the Illinois Media School and returns to journalism after a career in the corporate world.