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Virtualandia Online Collection

As school buildings and concert halls closed their doors this spring, Literary Arts’ Youth Programs team began creating virtual alternatives to Writers in the Schools, the College Essay Mentoring Project, and Verselandia, the city-wide youth poetry slam. A poetry slam is an in-person experience that cannot quite be reproduced by any amount of technology. However, we still wanted to provide Portland area students a way to express their creativity and to learn.

Virtualandia is Youth Programs’ socially distanced poetry event. Over six weeks, five local slam poets and writers created video lessons to help students brainstorm, write, perform, record, and revise their poetry. Students had the opportunity to receive feedback from accomplished slam poets, and then submitted their final work to live on the Literary Arts website. This is a collection of the work created by Portland area high school students during Spring 2020.


by Natalis S.

Hey You!  Did you see my most recent post on instagram?
Go look at it right now!
Don’t you think I look good in this? 
You should definitely swipe up and go give it a like! While you’re there, you should go give me a follow too. I’ll go like all your posts back! 
I promise to return the favor and like all of your posts back I just took such a long time planning out this selfie 
Like monitoring what time I should post it, 
Making sure ALL of my followers are active right now.
“Felt cute, might delete later”
If you look closely, you’ll see “my flawless skin”
My bushy eyebrows are on fleek
The blush painted across my cheeks.
I even made sure my outfit was coordinated 
Most of all, I edited my nose on facetune and made sure it’s tinier than in person. 
I look just like every REAL pretty girl on Instagram, right?
Ha, too bad I don’t look like that all the time “in real life”.
You won’t catch me like that anytime soon. 
I mean, look at me. I’m such a catfish!
Maybe you don’t notice these things
But in my mirror I do. 
The acne hiding my forehead
My stomach isn’t flat 
My legs are hairy too.  
I don’t even have an hourglass waistline like Kylie Jenner’s “snatched” waist
Or any beauty influencer
Maybe I’m just not working out hard enough. 
Maybe I’m just paranoid Can you blame me?
What if a fashion nova sponsor notices my flaws in all of my posts
Like if my hair looks too unkempt or if my thighs look too big.
What is it with people being obsessed with thigh gaps lately? 
Obsessing over these things stresses me out so much. 
It’s hard trying to look perfect on instagram. 
It’s like, I’m living in an illusion
These Instagram baddies posting pics with filters just to get paid for some likes
My followers unfollowing me if I’m not online everyday
People commenting compliments under a caption making people feel better about themselves
My fingers can’t stop scrolling my feed.
I can’t help it but be jealous of these beauty gurus,
I mean, why can’t I look like that in real life? 
They’re perfect.
It’s like these people don’t exist and I’m too consumed by unrealistic beauty standards
Deep down I know it’s time for me to log out or take a break
But I can’t stop looking.
Even though my eyes burn with jealousy I can’t go without sleep getting attention  
I am still a part of the “wannabe pretty and famous” on Instagram
I’m unreal too
Just like them.
I’m hiding behind a persona I created.
But I can’t hide behind this persona forever
It won’t be long before I become a walking barbie doll.
I think I’ll just delete this app and take a break
Going on walks, do some painting, or read a good book
And discover who I really am
The battle scars on my thighs 
The splatter of freckles painted on my cheeks 
And learn to love all of it.

The Part of Me that Gave Up on Poetry

by Lilli R.

Thank you to our #Virtualandia sponsors: