"Mo-Man" Fights Illiteracy With Poets in the Streets

Amoja SumlerUALR English major Amoja Sumler began writing poetry at the age of 10. Now, he is the founder of Poets in the Streets, a non-profit organization with a mission to teach creative writing to students of all levels.

“People, largely, no longer read poetry,” said Sumler. “Many feel as if it is no longer relevant, as if it no longer speaks to them. That bothers me, as it should all authors.”

Part of the Arkansas Arts Council Arts in Education, Poets in the Streets believes that encouraging burgeoning writers can reduce illiteracy rates. Volunteers from the organization have led workshops in schools and colleges all over the state. “Our goals are easily met,” said Sumler, also known as “Mo-Man.” “Our only goal is to increase the desire for people to read and to better understand what they read.”

Members of the organization have presented their works at the National Poetry Slam in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Last Poet Standing in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Southern Fried Slam in Birmingham, Alabama.

Sumler is a stipend recipient of both the Ronald E. McNair Scholars and the William G. Cooper Honors Programs.

“An English major offers me the best of both worlds,” said Sumler. “I can study the masters that came before me while honing my own personal theory on where the art needs to go.”

To contact Poets in the Streets, call 501.541.0681 or email poetryinthestreets@hotmail.com.

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