Student poetry collective coming to Sioux Falls


Sarah Browning

The first meeting is on Friday, Nov. 8, at the Icon Lounge Event Hall at 7 p.m.

Daniel Bethke, Staff Writer

Sioux Falls is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country; many new products and ideas are coming here. Among these is an innovative Poetry Collective spearheaded by LHS’ very own English I and Accelerated English I teacher, Xavier Pastrano.

Pastrano, along with Tony Martinet, president of the Sioux Falls Education Association, has been working on the Sioux Falls Poetry Collective for over a year, and it has quickly become a city-wide project. The idea to form the collective first came from Pastrano’s pre-existing interest in poetry. 

“What we saw was that the poetry community in Sioux Falls has been growing at an exponential rate,” said Pastrano. “Whenever we’d go to these poetry readings, we’d see a lot of teens from local high schools there listening and reading their own poetry.” 

Although the idea was derived from an after-school program in Des Moines called RunDSM, Pastrano hopes to create something more unique to Sioux Falls. Pastrano hopes to create a meeting place for students interested in poetry to work on and develop their ideas through several workshops. The workshops, led by local poets, would allow students to learn and better their craft, and they would include everything from performance and delivery to getting work published.

For Pastrano, a key function of the Poetry Collective would be getting students involved in poetry or interested in writing in general. However, Pastrano is also interested in another aspect. 

“We wanted to give students the tools to help strengthen their writing, but we also want to give them a platform to use their writing as a powerful tool to make their voices heard,” said Pastrano. “We want to give them the confidence and the opportunity to get up there and be like ‘this is how I feel about this issue and people should listen because it’s important to me.’”

Taking part in the Poetry Collective would involve elements of both writing and performance. Pastrano seeks to create an environment where students develop soft skills and writing skills through their poetry. He hopes to make the Poetry Collective not only a place to learn about publishing and creating poetry, but also a social gathering place for students 14 to 18, published poets (such as Pastrano himself) and poetry enthusiasts.

“Look in all the right places. Take advantage of any competitions. If you have something that you’re super confident in and you just love it, start sending it out to different places,” said Pastrano.

For now, the Poetry Collective will be meeting on Wednesdays twice a month from 5-6 p.m. at the Source Roasterie. If the Sioux Falls Poetry Collective sounds like a group you would like to be a part of, make sure to come to the first meeting on Friday, Nov. 8, at the Icon Lounge Event Hall at 7 p.m.