Poems from Vicky Edmonds’ poetry class at Spruce Street Residential Center.
My fears are people
Who laugh at me and my people
And hurt them,
Those people are what I call monsters Some died and others want to rise up And be the only hope for everyone
But I fear for my family
They are a beautiful garden that is dying I am the gardener
Healing my roots but death and sadness consumes them all
And I am the dying light
but I am brighter than the sun
At the end of the 2014-15 school year, Madrona Middle School 6th and 7th grade students learned about our local watershed, pollution and how it effects life in the Puget Sound through a series of lessons and hands-on experiments.
Part of Arts Corps’ Creative School Initiative, science teacher Nick Woelbrandt and teaching artist Nate Herth collaborated to infuse visual and performance art into science curriculum. These projects culminated in the students recording Public Service Announcements. They worked in small teams from an original script and recorded ‘live’ in front a studio audience, their classmates.
On sunny Sunday afternoons you may have been riding bikes at Green Lake, taking walks, or lounging in a chair in your back yard but what you’ll soon find out is that the youth representing Youth Speaks Seattle’s Brave New Voices team has been hard at work. They have been delicately workshopping their crafted spoken word poems.
Our team this year consists of Darius, Kim, Carlynn, Addie, and Acacia. They are youth represented from all corners of Seattle. If you ever get a chance to hear in on our meetings, you would hear enlightening conversation, repetition of words that had been left unsaid, and booms of laughter. Three words when I think of the slam team are exuberant, fanatical, and fresh. They bring social consciousness to an awareness and are the next visionaries.
During one of the practices, some questions brought up to ask a poet while workshopping is “What was your purpose for writing this piece?” or “Who were you specifically writing this poem to?”
Carlynn answered, “I write poetry to bring awareness for acceptance in this world. There are so many cultures that we all need to find acceptance of others and need to understand each other.”
Addie added, “We need to notice what is happening. I think a lot of people ‘try’ to make better of the past but we need to keep moving forward.”
“In our [collaborated] poem about Freddie Gray, we said ‘history repeats itself,’ we [as people] are firm believers of the past and need to make presence toward the future to be present,” Carlynn stated.
Slam preparation meetings are not only eye opening but also about self-discovery.
Youth Speaks alumni and mentor, Dako’ta Alcantara-Camancho came through last week to help give pointers about poetry through their perspective.
It wasn’t until Kim shared her poem about male rappers, a poem she wrote to male rappers and the rap industry; she raps as she shares it and it is always mind blowing each time. Once she shared her poem, Dako’ta suggested to test different mediums and added a beat into the mix. Kim then added her poem to the beat and that was when gears started to turn. We found out that not only was Kim a poet but she was secretly a rapper in the making.
We also have moments of stand-up comedy in the making as well. Darius is a clever minded and fresh thinker of turning slam poetry into moments of laughter- a difficult approach to spoken word. After you’ll hear his poem, “Five Minute Naps” you will think twice about closing your eyes from sleep deprivation. Darius’s style of poetry is the kind that you can listen to after a rough day because it’s extremely hilarious and will have your lungs expand from the charming charisma he brings on stage. It will literally knock your socks off.
During our meetings, there are also moments of vulnerability in which sharing poetry causes. Acacia wrote a beautiful poem in honor of her grandmother. The poem bridges and is relatable to the many relationships we have to our elders and ancestors. It not only makes you reflect but also causes you to tear up because of her delicately crafted words. She had also wrote a lettered response to the song “Black Boy Fly,” by rapper Kendrick Lamar which gives you thoughts to reflect upon.
With the amazing support of community from mentors, alumni, and friends this amazing team of revolutionaries wouldn’t been able to represent Seattle in Atlanta, Georgia this year for Brave New Voices.
Please support the team and get a peep at what poems will be shared on stage at Brave New Voices this year by attending our Send Off Show on Friday July 10th, 2015 at the Vera Project (7- 10 pm.)
Christina Nguyen is a Legacy Spokes Leader and BNV Assistant Coach
EMP + Arts Corps and the Macklemore Ryan Lewis are launching a Hip Hop Teen Residency Program this summer for youth interested in pursuing Hip Hop as a career.
We have an amazing opportunity for a young person (18-25) to join the camp as a classroom assistant!
Please see the job description and more information below:
Spring is always known as a time of rebirth and rejuvenation, as winter thaws and flowers begin unfurl from the ground. This season of rejuvenation offers a ripe moment for collective recommitment to building a more just world. This abundance is always palpable on the first day of May, a long celebrated annual day of public protest. May 1st, also known as May Day, is International Worker’s Day. Originally chosen to commemorate the Haymarket affair, an 1886 labor demonstration by Chicago workers, who were striking for an eight-hour workday and against the killing of workers by police when the peaceful turned violent with a dynamite bomb. This moment in labor history is honored each year as May 1st, where people march to continue a legacy of workers’ resistance. In more recent years, May Day has also been designated as a day to lift up immigrants’ struggles and movements towards ending deportations and creating justice for undocumented folks.
Each year in Seattle, there is a huge march by El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition. This inspirational day of public protest is not just a one-off day of action. It represents dedicated and transformative long haul organizing around multiple and intersecting issues, led by communities of color. As apart of the Seattle Youth Coalition, Youth Speaks Seattle seeks to be apart of the ongoing movement along with other youth-driven organizations. It is essential that young folks are in leadership in these liberatory struggles. Youth Speaks Seattle leaders marched with other young artists and activists. The diverse demands chanted by crowds represented the power of May Day to bring together multiple and intersecting issues of economic, climate and racial justice. In the crowd, a #BlackLivesMatter contingent carried a huge sign that read “Stop Fucking Killing Us”. They moved with dignity and power through the streets, followed by organizers from the Model Minority Mutiny Contingent, Youth and Student Coalition, Womxn of Color and Families Contingent and many more. Signs boldly connected climate justice, indigenous sovereignty, API solidarity with BlackLivesMatter, the #Not1More deportation movement, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, ending Israeli apartheid and more. The streets spoke to the power of frontline leadership and allies joining together to agitate, mourn, rejoice and vision onwards.
As a way to continue the education, transformation and mobilization of May Day, Youth Speaks hosted our second-ever Liberation Open Mic. This special edition of our monthly open mic is an opportunity to lift up the revolutionary potential of art to shift culture. Shifting culture can mean so many different things. Our open mics provide fertile ground to change hearts & minds, to gather energy in community and speak truth to power. The Liberation Open Mic offered youth and adult allies space to share and create with another. In the warm Spring air, we held the open mic outside where poets, rappers and musicians shared truth and showcased their work. We had a feature from three cultural workers and comrades at Anakbayan Seattle (a Youth and Student org working towards national democracy & liberation in the Philippines), Nikki Caintic, Richard Arcelo and Enrico Abadesco. As the full moon rose above Beacon Hill, we cyphered and laughed and sung together. The night ended with a joyful and spontaneous musical collaboration between Anakbayan and YSS artists. From the march to the mic, the radical legacy of May 1st continued with the voices of youth at the forefront. May we continue our collective work towards a more just world, with the budding Spring energy at our backs!