Poetry-based Peacemaking: Inspire, Empower, Create

This event occurred in the past

Poetry-based Peacemaking: Inspire, Empower, Create

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Thursday, November 12, 2015 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Institute for Peace and Justice, Rooms E/F

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




Founder and Executive Director of Street Poets Inc., Chris Henrikson, and the Street Poets performance group led participants in an interactive workshop that looked at how poetry and the written word can be used to create peace within an individual and a community. The workshop was modeled after the same workshops Street Poets Inc. has facilitated in juvenile detention facilities across Los Angeles for the past 10 years. Using Street Poets Inc.’s unique methodology, participants received the opportunity to engage in the process of poetry writing and to learn specific creative methods that can be used while working with youth.

Taylor Code first connected with Street Poets almost 20 years ago as a 16-year-old participant in their writing workshop at an L.A. County juvenile detention camp. Today, Code serves as a teaching artist and restorative justice advocate for Street Poets. An accomplished poet and rapper, Code is a founding member of Street Poets’ spoken-word performance group and has shared his redemptive story and creative work at numerous venues throughout the nation. He has served as an expert speaker, panelist and presenter in the areas of gang intervention and recovery.

Mayda Del Valle, teaching artist for Street Poets, is a widely acclaimed poet/performer. She has appeared on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO and was a contributing writer and original cast member of the Tony Award-winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. In 2009 she was invited to perform at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Del Valle has served as a teaching artist with Street Poets since 2011, leading workshops in high schools and probation camps. She is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at California Institute of the Arts.

Chris Henrikson, founder and executive director of Street Poets, Inc., has over 20 years of experience teaching poetry and mentoring highly at-risk youth and young adults within and around the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system. Henrikson was inspired to create Street Poets in 1995 after a volunteer teaching stint in a Los Angeles County juvenile detention camp. He has spoken at numerous conferences and panels on youth rites of passage, arts-based intervention strategies, multicultural community building, restorative justice practices and alternatives to incarceration.

Chirag Menon, program director at Street Poets, is a recording/performing artist, writer and educator. He oversees and coordinates Street Poets’ school-based workshops, probation camp programs and community outreach efforts. As an artist, Menon has recorded and released eight albums, both solo and with hip-hop groups. He was featured in the landmark South Asian-American documentary Brown Like Dat, and was invited to return to his home country of India to speak and perform at the Goa Literary Festival.  Since 2011, Menon has been facilitating retreats at colleges throughout the U.S. via the Posse Foundation.

When most kids were playing baseball and chasing girls, David Sanchez was smoking and hiding from an abusive father. The streets of L.A. became his playground; he shot his first gun without thinking. Juvenile hall turned into prison. In 1995, Street Poets Inc. began teaching a weekly poetry workshop in the Los Angeles County Probation Department. Sanchez started writing. He says, “My spirit was set free when I wrote my first poem, now I can see clearly.” He now provides transformational workshops for youth and young adults at school and juvenile detention sites through Los Angeles.

Street Poets Inc. is an L.A.-based, nonprofit peacemaking organization that harnesses the healing power of poetry and music to transform lives and communities. Started in a Los Angeles County juvenile detention camp in 1995, Street Poets facilitates performances and writing workshops for incarcerated and at-risk youth in schools, juvenile halls, the streets of L.A. and beyond. The organization also mentors youth and leads rites-of-passage retreats. Street Poets Inc. was the 2013 recipient of the Cultural Fluency Award from Mount St. Mary's College, as well as the 2003 recipient of the John Anson Ford Human Relations Award from the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.


Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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