November has been a busy month of residencies and youth projects! First, I spent a fair bit of time with early-years students in Winnipeg’s St. James School Division working on poetry that explored peace literacy and community values. It’s been a trip, developing lesson plans for students in grades as early as kindergarten, and looking at my CV now, I can accurately say that I can effectively teach spoken word to all ages! It can be done!
Then over two weekends, I returned for a fourth term as the facilitator for Manitoba Council for International Cooperation’s Voices for Change spoken word project. We tackled the topic of gender equality on an international level, and the young trio of poets have come up with a wonderful, visceral piece that will be released on YouTube just before they hit the stage at the Legislature during International Development Week. I’m very proud of their work, and believe that it’s the finest piece to come out of that project yet! I can’t wait to share it with you.
Finally, I’ve been in residency at East Selkirk Middle School building community and safe space – all in preparation for the students to take part in a spoken word showcase at the 2nd annual Holiday Alley winter festival! Thanks to the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the School program, I’ve been able to draw some impressive stories and images from these young poets, while building their confidence as performers and public speakers. There are still a few bundles of nerves to unravel, but I believe that by the end of next week, students will be ready to step up and be visible to their community, and have their voices heard.
We’ll be taking over the High Tea tent on Saturday, December 1st at 5:30pm-ish. I’ll be grabbing as many ESMS students as I can and inviting them on stage to share work from our workshops together. Then, a cadre of teenaged poets will take over for some short sets, all headlined by my future apprentice and Insta-Poetry star, Julie Stevenson. Finally, we’ll top off the showcase with feature sets by myself and reigning SLAM! champion, Tiana Northage!
I recently spoke with Global TV about the event. You can also catch a clip of one of Julie’s poems!
I’m hoping the showcase makes a splash in Selkirk, and that a buzz for spoken word continues in the community. Julie and I have applied to Creative Manitoba’s Rural Mentorship program. It will be our goal to use that buzz to build future events where youth can share their art, maybe even going so far as to develop a spoken word community in town!