Artistic Verses

History of Artistic Verses

In 1993, Leslie Clark, a former Warwick High School English teacher, designed the Artistic Verses program. She, along with several other Newport News English teachers, encouraged students across the district to use art as a springboard for poetry. The first 30 students at each high school to sign up with the building writing coordinator were eligible to participate in the contest. Ms. Clark and other Newport News English teachers visited the schools and conducted workshops that helped students view the art and turn their impressions into poetic responses. After the workshops, the students visited the Peninsula Fine Arts Center to view the exhibitions, take notes and write poetry in response to one piece of art. Poems were entered in the city-wide contest, where poets won prizes for first, second and third place. All participating students received a certificate in recognition of their excellent work. Students, teachers, parents and friends attended a reception at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center where all poets were invited to read their works aloud in front of the art that inspired them. Students were delighted when they received a booklet containing all of the poems from the contest.

The project has remained much the same. Some years poets and artists visited the schools and conducted workshops. Other years, poets greeted the students at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center and conducted brief writing seminars in the galleries. Other times, building coordinators prepared the students for the field trips by conducting brief writing workshops in the individual schools.

The first year the project was funded by the Newport News School System and the Guild of the PFAC. Soon thereafter, the Newport News Arts Commission started funding the project. By 1995, Noland Memorial Foundation began to underwrite the project. Today, the project is funded by Newport News Arts Commission and the Peninsula Community Foundation.

This year, students will have the opportunity to view the exhibition, To Walk in Beauty: Native American Art, Past & Present.

This year’s Artistic Verses Program includes a workshop by poet Sarah Pringle. The focus is on creative writing and the spoken word. The Artistic Verses Google Site has been created to expand the exposure of the students’ works to a 21st century forum. Newport News Public Schools and the Peninsula Fine Arts Center hope you enjoy this year’s verses.

To browse through this expansive collection, use the categories above to select a school. For further information about Artistic Verses or this Google Site, please contact Danielle Smith at