Rain Poetry

It’s raining poetry in Pennsylvania!

PA Humanities engaged children from five Philadelphia neighborhoods in a hands-on community poetry activity facilitated by local poets and Youth Poets Laureate. Haiku created by students grades 1-5 are being installed in public spaces by Tiny WPA with a special rain-activated solution. They are inspired by the theme, “What helps you keep growing?”

All it takes is a splash of water for the poems to sprout up all around as if by magic.

Rain Poetry transforms everyday spaces into opportunities to engage with the humanities — and fosters learning, conversation, and community stewardship along the way.

Featured on WHYY, ABC, NBC10, FOX29, Metro, and PhillyVoice.

Sparking Imagination

Children’s imaginations were sparked through deep reflections on the theme of growth and its connection to personal and community development.

Under the guidance of past and present Philadelphia Youth Poets Laureate and other poets-in-residence, workshops were held in schools and afterschool programs in high need neighborhoods. The workshops teach children that the humanities are an exciting means of imaginative self-expression that builds meaningful relationships and can make change in their neighborhoods. They also got to flex their social emotional learning skills as they collaborated with mentors and community members.


Featured Poems

"It’s been a pleasure to guide these talented poets in the process of translating their love of language into the practice of teaching poetry."

- Yolanda Wisher, Philadelphia Poet Laureate, Poet Mentor and Curriculum Development Consultant

"What a joy to see how the RAIN project is seeding poetry, which will sprout from the streets of Philadelphia and PA! What a perfect project, to use the talents of our Youth Poet Laureates as well as students from various neighborhoods.”

- Dr. Cathy Cohen, Montgomery County Poet Laureate, Early Literacy Specialist

"The Rain Poetry Project has allowed me to bring what can feel like a forgotten medium to the next generation. I've seen students both struggle and delight in what they have written. If they didn't know before these workshops, they now know that their words have value."

- David Jones, Philadelphia youth poet laureate, workshop facilitator


The Big Reveal

Kicking off during National Poetry Month in April 2023, Tiny WPA began installing 8-10 of the poems in each of the five neighborhoods. The water-sensitive haiku will be repeatedly activated over the next two months anytime it rains. A reveal party and community celebration takes place in each neighborhood, and features poetry performances, music, and interactive poetry/art making.


Rain Poetry celebration and book launch event for program partners and community members. Features poetry reading and talks by local poets, Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureates (including Oyewumi Oyeniyi), and Philadelphia youth.

Attendees receive a copy of the PA Humanities published book “What Helps You Keep Growing?” — a special collection of haiku written by students from five Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Philadelphia Project Team

Yolanda Wisher (Philadelphia Poet Laureate)

Poet Mentor and Curriculum Development Consultant

Dr. Cathy Cohen (Montgomery County Poet Laureate)

Early Literacy Specialist

Trapeta B. Mayson (Philadelphia Poet Laureate)

Project Consultant

Philadelphia Youth Poets Laureate

Telicia Darius, Cydney Brown, Mia Concepcion, Husnaa Hashim, David Jones

Tiny WPA –

Installation and Fabrication Consultant

ArtWell –

Workshop Host Partner

Mighty Writers –

Workshop Host Partner

Teaching Artists –

Enoch the Poet, Lindo Jones, Khaliah D. Pitts

The Rain Poetry project is made possible with the generous support of the William Penn Foundation.