Jordan Wins!




Jordan Wolmut wins Virtuialandia for the second time. You can see her poetry in the video called "Trigger Warning." Jordan has been involved with poetry since age 5. See her process for writing and performing poetry in the  pages below.

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May is Asian/Pacific Islander month

Check out these titles where the protagonist is of Asian or Pacific Islander Heritage 

 April is National Poetry Month

Linton Kwesi Johnson, also known as LKJ, is a Jamaican dub poet and activist who has been based in the United Kingdom since 1963. In 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series.








March IS Women's History Month




Since the beginning of the pandemic, advocacy groups estimate that anti-Asian violence has risen, with nearly 3,000 incidents reported across the country between March and December of 2020.

Last month, Glendale resident Juanito Falcon was attacked and later died of head injuries. He was an immigrant from the Philippines. Phoenix police have not said the incident was racially motivated. But Falcon’s family and advocates say they believe it was.

Anti-Asian sentiments are not new in America. The gold rush and railroad expansion projects in the mid-19th century led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which was supposed to curb immigrants from China.

During World War II, roughly 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to internment camps in Arizona and across the U.S.

Cindy Lee was born and raised in the U.S. For most of her life, she’s seen herself as purely American. In her essay, “Am I A Conditional American?” she recounts her own experiences of discrimination.

Track NameArtist Name
00:00 / 01:04

IAuthor and professor of Gender and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, Brittney Cooper uses her own experience to talk about the power of black female rage and how it can drive revolution and change the world.

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.








Q&A: All About Slam! with Jacque Dixon, Jordan Wolmut, and Olivia Jones-Hall 




Workshop: From the Page to the Stage! with Alex Dang.

Schedule of Events with links to purchase tickets, sign up for workshops, handbook, etc. Note: Tickets are free for students and educators

Sign up sheet for 1:1 coaching support




#Virtualandia! 2021 is an exciting opportunity for Portland Metro high school students to take part in a dynamic virtual slam poetry competition for the chance to win prizes and the title of #Virtualandia slam champion. This program includes free workshops for students and schools, individual feedback sessions for competing poets, and professional video production for the top 10 students who advance to the final rounds. 

The championship will be held via livestream on Thursday April 29, 2021 at The top prize is a $1,000 visa gift card.

Students and educators can get free tickets to the 2021 #Virtualandia! Youth Poetry Slam Championship and community members can support the next generation of poets and storytellers with their ticket purchase.


March 19 — Submissions open, 12 p.m. 

March 31 — Submissions close, 11:59 p.m.

April 13 — Notification of placement

April 16 — Studio recording of final poems, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

April 17 — Studio recording of final poems, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

April 29 — #Virtualandia! championship livestream at 5:30 p.m.


Student handbook:

Workshop and Q&A sign ups:

1:1 Feedback/Coaching sign ups:

#Virtualandia competition registration:

Ticket link:

Contact Emilly Prado, Director of Youth Programs, for inquiries about workshops and feedback sessions at Contact Olivia Jones-Hall, Youth Programs Manager, for competition rule inquiries at



 1. Register here. Registration is open now!
2. Upload your video. 

Starting March 19, once you have registered, Literary Arts will email you within one business day with a link to upload the video of your poem. Both components (registration and upload) of your entry must be submitted by Wednesday, March 31 at 11:59 p.m. PST. You will be notified of advancement by Tuesday, April 13. Up to 300 students can submit a poem.


Please note: Participating students must be high school students, currently enrolled at one of the following schools:  Alliance, Benson, Centennial, Cleveland, David Douglas, Fir Ridge, Franklin, Grant, Gresham, Ida B. Wells-Barnett/Wilson, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Many Nations Academy, Metropolitan Learning Center, Open School, Parkrose, Reynolds, and Roosevelt.


February is Black History Month

Take a look at the events that are going on during the month in Portland and beyond.



Virtually on Thursday, April 8 at 6:00 p.m (PDT)

tickets @


Each year, Literary Arts presents the culminating event of Multnomah County Library’s community reading program—an author lecture. This year, the event will be held virtually on Thursday, April 8 at 6:00 p.m (PDT) and will feature a talk from Ross Gay, followed by an interview with local bestselling author, Lidia Yuknavitch.
















Alex Awards

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. 

Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement Award


The Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is named in memory of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. The annual award is presented in even years to an African American author, illustrator or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults, and who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution.

Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award

Announced for the first time in 2019, the Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award is given to a digital media producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early learning audience.

Margaret A. Edwards Award

The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.

Michael L. Printz Award

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award

This award, established in Mildred L. Batchelder's honor in 1966, is a citation awarded to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.

Odyssey Award




The Odyssey Award is given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. 

Pura Belpré Awards

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

Schneider Family Book Award

eiderThe Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award

Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. The award is sponsored by the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table.

William C. Morris Award

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. 

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a Nov. 1 – Oct. 31 publishing year. 

November is Native American Celebration Month

A common phrase used to describe minority or underrepresented populations is "people of color." American Indians are not, to quote Elizabeth Cook Lynn, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe and founding editor of Wicazo Sa (a leading journal in American Indian Studies), "people of color." Cook-Lynn writes:

Native populations in America are not "ethnic" populations; they are not "minority" populations, neither immigrant nor tourist, nor "people of color." They are the indigenous peoples of this continent. They are landlords, with very special political and cultural status in the realm of American identity and citizenship. Since 1924, they have possessed dual citizenship, tribal and U.S., and are the only population that has not been required to deny their previous national citizenship in order to possess U.S. citizenship. They are known and documented as citizens by their tribal nations. (1)

She goes on to say that placing us within a multicultural or ethnic studies category has a negative effect because those categories obliterate our political difference. The political dimension she refers to is our status as sovereign nations, a distinction based on treaty and trust agreements made between early European nations who came to what we now call the United States, and, later agreements made between the United States and Native Nations.


 To request a book from the Benson library, click on the link below and follow the steps to reserve your book.

Sept 15-Oct 15

LatinX celebration month


 To request a book from the Benson library, click on the link below and follow the steps to reserve your book.


SEPTEMBER 24 2020 














Welcome Back Benson Students!

I’m Mr. Larson, 

Your Teacher Librarian





Hello Families,


I want to inform you of the “Let’s Get Reading” program and the bag of books, one of many you will receive this year! This is one way to bring the library to you during this period of distance-learning. The 5-10 books in the bag were selected to represent a range of interests and reading abilities. The books can be enjoyed by students as well as the entire family. 

Reading a print book, or reading a book on screen are both options for reading.  Even listening to a book counts as reading! We want Benson students to have books in print because there are specific benefits to reading a physical book over a book on a screen. Reading printed material allows us to slow down and give time for deep reading. It provides our brains the essential processes of critical thinking, empathy and reflection. Picking up a physical book is also a great way to take a break from the new digital reality. 

How do we get Print Books and eBooks to Read?

The Benson Library will provide access to books in several ways.

1. Benson and PPS have a large collection of eBooks available for students to read that reflect varied reading levels and topics about diverse experiences. You can find choices under the tab at the top labeled BT Distance Learning Resources, or under the Tab "Free eBooks" to Read these are easily accessed using your school Google account.

2. The Benson library will be handing out "Bags of Books" for students to read and return for more books. This will happen throughout the year with the bags reflecting several different genres and reading levels through diverse titles and experinces.

3. We will be taking requests for specific books for checkout that are available through the Benson Library. These will be distributed to students in the same way as the book bags are. To request specific books from the library you can find the Google form here.

I look forward to getting to work with you and your student in reshaping how the library will work to keep you reading during this school year.

Please Contact me with any additional questions or needs. The Benson library staff is here to help you succeed. Making the digital and virtual transition to reading and learning an easier process. Check back regularly, to find out what is happening in your Benson library!



Mr. Larson and Ms. Irma

Current Library 


September 01, 2020

Welcome Back Benson Students

Let’s Get Reading 

May 01, 2020

Introducing… Virtualandia!

Local slam poets and writers will create instructional videos focused on one aspect of slam poetry and performance. Each week, we will add a video here so that students may follow along through the process of learning about slam poetry, writing, performing, recording, and revising their poems.

May 01, 2020

MAY is Asian and Pacific Islander Month

Check out theses books that celebrate the authors and stories of Asian and Pacific Islanders.

April 01, 2020

April is Poetry Month

April 05, 2020

Please see above links for resources for distance learning for staff and students.

Please reload

The Best We Could Do
by Thi Bui

Deeply gripping and poignant, this graphic novel memoir manages to be both epic and intimate in its recounting of one family's journey from Vietnam to America. I'm left in awe of what we do for those we love in the face of the impossible.
— Neil, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You
by Yumi Sakugawa

Sakugawa's touching comic-turned-book captures the love in connections that defy easy categories. It's an essential read for anyone with friends, lovers, friend-lovers, and everything in between.
— Candace, APANO Staff Member

Iep Jaltok: Poems From a Marshallese Daughter
by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Take in the powerful words of a resilient Marshallese woman who shares reflections on the impact of climate change, colonization, forced migration, and the legacy of U.S. nuclear testing on her island home in Micronesia.
— Lilian, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

If They Come for Us
by Fatimah Asghar

A timely poetic articulation about immigration, sexuality, and class. It pushes us to think beyond now mainstream liberal parameters of understanding these identities.
— Shweta, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

by Solmaz Sharif

The best poetic response to the dehumanizing, euphemistic language of the endless War on Terror. This book took the top of my head off.
— Jake, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Luminescent, bold, and powerful, these poems find their inspiration not only in the sea, but also in the depths and tides of human interaction. I've been a fan of hers for years, and this book is transcendent.
— Neil, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

by Min Jin Lee

A multigenerational tale that follows the story of a Korean woman who migrates to Japan, this beautifully written book helped me reconnect with my heritage with nuance, exploring modern themes of femininity, migration, and identity in the time and space of my grandparents.
— Joe, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

Serve the People
by Karen L. Ishizuka

An important view of the beginnings of the Asian American movement.
— Chisao, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

A Tale for the Time Being
by Ruth Ozeki

In this metafictional novel, the stories of two characters are woven together with poetic and honest descriptions.
— Jillian, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

We Gon' Be Alright
by Jeff Chang

An essential book by a brilliant cultural critic, We Gon’ Be Alright adds much to our current discourse on race and equity with essays on the history of #BlackLivesMatter, the nuances of the #OscarsSoWhite movement, gentrification as seen through what Chang calls “resegregation,” and so much more.
— Toni, APANO Board Member

West of Kabul, East of New York
by Tamim Ansary

No book has ever immersed me so fully in another culture's — and country's — way of seeing the world, something we need now more than ever.
— Jessica, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Asian American Writers
by Frank Chin, Jeffery Chan, Lawson Inada, and Shawn Wong

Mandatory reading of the Asian American Movement.
— Chisao, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

Poeta en San Francisco
by Barbara Jane Reyes

An operatic and bilingual tour de force of decolonizing literature, and so inspiring for me to find my own voice!
— Jake, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me
by Lorina Mapa

Heartfelt storytelling written and drawn by the author in a unique graphic memoir style, Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me is about the author's experience as an American Filipino immigrant who goes back to the Philippines for her father's funeral. The story goes back and forth between contemporary times and the ’80s. Even includes a ’80s discography!
— Toni, APANO Board Member

by Jane Wong

This is poetry with raw edges, burnt tongues, and crystalline memories, all delivered with a punch to the gut. I felt Wong's words ripple through my very body — read and feel them roar!
— Candace, APANO Staff Member

America Is in the Heart
by Carlos Bulosan

It is the Grapes of Wrath for Filipino Americans. It details the struggle of immigrants wanting a place in America and shows how to be active in the creation of an America for all.
— Oliver, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

by Albert Wendt

In this book, Wendt crafts a story true to the experiences of Samoan cultural norms and values, and to the experience of Samoan diaspora in New Zealand.
— Lilian, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time
by Beau Sia

Vulnerable and raw, with all of the emotions a person can feel over years of contemplation
— Jillian, APANO Arts & Media Project Member

by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang's stories are beautiful, clever, haunting... tales that will stick with you for days. This collection includes “Stories of Your Life and Others,” which formed the basis for the movie Arrival; each story in the collection is just as good.
— Jessica, APANO Arts & Media Project Member


Introducing… Virtualandia!

Benson Poetry Slam and #Virtualandia!

 All are welcome!

You can join the  Poetry Slam Club Google Classroom with code bxm3cwv .

Everyone is welcome. In conjunction with Literary Arts (producers of Verselandia), we will provide poetry prompts, video lessons taught by professional slammers including our new Oregon Poet Laureate, a chance to submit work for feedback, share work with fellow  Benson slammers, and a chance to submit to #Virtualandia! Schedule here:

May 1: Intro to Slam-Personification Poem, Brianna Renae

May 6: Video #2: Know and Love Thyself Poetry Writing, Mandela Msanii
May 11 Feedback submission form opens (closes May 18)
May 13: Video #3: Poetry Performance Basics, Oregon poet laureate-Anis Mojgani
May 20: Video #4   Video: Best Practices for Recording Video, Arthur Bradford
May 22: Feedback due back to students
May 27: Video #5  Video: Revision and Editing, Julia Gaskill
May 29 Last day to submit to Online Collection of Poetry (audio, video, or print)
June 5 Collection of Student Poetry Published


Brianna starts with some Slam basics, including poem requirements, the difference between performance and written poetry, and how to make your poems impactful. She was a judge at Verselandia! last year, so she knows her stuff. Brianna has also included a couple of excellent exercises to get your creativity flowing, so that you can brainstorm creative and unique poems that will stay with whoever hears them. You can pause the video to try out the exercises, and press play when you're ready to move forward.

Click here to watch Brianna's recommended video, Gun, by Diego.


Mandela focuses on methods to help students center themselves and find their truth in order to bring integrity and power to their poetry. Exercises include writing affirmations, a love letter to oneself, and explaining what "speaking truth" means to you.

Click here to access the document that Mandela references in the video.

Mandela also plays the first two minutes of a performance by Jasmine Mans and The Poets. Click here to watch the video on YouTube.


Anis lays out five components of performance to focus on, and notes that the performance begins with the writing. He also discusses tips for memorization and connecting to the audience, and reminds us that the goal of sharing poetry is not always to be understood, but to be heard.

You may want to take notes to remind yourself what to focus on as you move forward with writing your poems.


Arthur Bradford, author and filmmaker, gives students tips for recording a well-produced video of their slam poem. Framing, sound, light, and performance are all key to a well done video, and will help students create their best submission.


Arthur shows four examples of videos of slam poems to show what does and doesn't work when recording. Here are links to those videos if you would like to watch them in their entirety:
Lies My Mother Told Me
Suicide Note
My Emerging Self
I'm Ugly


In the final video lesson, Portland slam poet and slam master Julia Gaskill walks students through some of the reasons why revision in poetry is crucial to the writing process. Revision can continue for days, months, or, as Julia explains, even years, and it's never too early or too late to start the editing process. Julia also closes out the video with a few revision exercises for students to try out to perfect their slam poems.


April is Poetry Month


Paisley Rekdal

Danez Smith


 Aracelis Girmay


Warsan Shire

Tracy K. Smith


Ocean Vuong


Terrance Hayes


Eileen Myles


Claudia Rankine


 D.A. Powell


Rickey Laurentiis

Naomi Shihab Nye


Angel Nafis

Julia Alvarez

Anna Journey

Kay Ryan


Write. Right. Rite." Series

Welcome to the “Write. Right. Rite.,” a “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” video series! The “Write. Right. Rite.” is meant to be an entertaining and inventive way to engage with the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason Reynolds.

According to Reynolds, the “Write. Right. Rite.” is all about learning the ritual of “authentic”—not to be confused with “correct” or “exact”—expression. Throughout the series, he will share his passion for storytelling while discussing topics like creativity, connection, and imagination. At the end of each video, Reynolds will share a prompt that encourages young people to work toward a specific idea. The activities are fun-filled and some are more challenging than others, but Reynolds always makes sure to include brainstorming “get-you-going” questions.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to dive into, try on, and work through the newest episode of the “Write. Right. Rite.”?

Poetry in Your Pocket Day!

More Ways to Participate

It's easy to participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day from a safe distance. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Select a poem and share it on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem. 

  • Simultaneously participate in the Shelter in Poems initiative, and select a poem that brings you solace during this time of distance and solitude. Share what it means to you and use the hashtags #pocketpoem and #ShelterInPoems.

  • Print a poem from the Poem in Your Pocket Day PDF and draw an image from the poem in the white space, or use the instructions on pages 59-60 of the PDF to make an origami swan. 

  • Record a video of yourself reading a poem, then share it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or another social media platform you use. 

  • Email a poem to your friends, family, neighbors, or local government leaders.

  • Schedule a video chat and read a poem to your loved ones.

  • Add a poem to your email footer.

  • Read a poem out loud from your porch, window, backyard or outdoor space. 

Discover more ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in the classroomin the library, and in the wider community!

This Months Featured Authors

© Benson Library 2019-2021

Tel: 503 916-5100 x77125


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