May 19, 2017: The Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate Slam

Friday, May 19, 2017 at the Black Dog Cafe in Saint Paul: Come hear from some of the boldest voices in the city as our 10 finalists compete to become the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of Saint Paul!

Congratulations to Henry Benjamin, Samoa the Poet, Chavah Gabrielle, Armand McCoy, Cynthia Zapata, Donte Collins, Talia Young, Karinna Gerhardt, Lindsay Schaefer, and Xavier Columbus!

Background: This year, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (as part of its KnightArts Challenge), TruArtSpeaks launched the inaugural Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate program. The program seeks to identify one Saint Paul poet between the ages of 16 and 24 to serve as the Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate for a year. That young artist will receive mentorship from nationally-renowned poet (and Saint Paul native) Danez Smith, engage in performances and civic engagement opportunities throughout the year, and inspire other young people to tell their stories, raise their voices, and be heard. Read more here.

Announcing the Inaugural Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate Finalists

This year, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (as part of its KnightArts Challenge), TruArtSpeaks launched the inaugural Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate program. The program seeks to identify one Saint Paul poet between the ages of 16 and 24 to serve as the Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate for a year. That young artist will receive mentorship from nationally-renowned poet (and Saint Paul native) Danez Smith, engage in performances and civic engagement opportunities throughout the year, and inspire other young people to tell their stories, raise their voices, and be heard.

The submission process is now closed! Thank you to our incredible panel of judges (Khary Jackson, Desdamona, Danez Smith, Kyle Tran Myhre, and Duncan Slagle) and congratulations to this year’s finalists:

  • Henry Benjamin
  • Samoa the Poet
  • Chavah Gabrielle
  • Armand McCoy
  • Cynthia Zapata
  • Donte Collins
  • Talia Young
  • Karinna Gerhardt
  • Lindsay Schaefer
  • Xavier Columbus

All of the finalists will perform their work at a poetry slam on Friday, May 19 at the Black Dog Cafe in Saint Paul at 7pm. This competition will decide who will serve as this year’s Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate; don’t miss it!

 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once owned newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.


National Poetry Month: The ReVerb Open Mic and Instagram 30/30

ReVerb is still the place to be for a weekly opportunity to share your work, listen to others, and build community. This free, all ages open mic goes down every Thursday from 6-8pm at Golden Thyme Cafe in Saint Paul. Share whatever you’re feeling, or take part in one of the weekly theme/form challenges. Also, don’t forget about the workshop on every first Thursday of the month at 4:30pm.

TruArtSpeaks has also been posting writing prompts to help propel anyone trying to do a “30 poems in 30 days” National Poetry Month writing challenge. If you find yourself stuck, or are just looking for a little inspiration, check them all out here.


The Endowment Recap: A Beautiful Night of Hip Hop and Community

On April 15 at Icehouse in Minneapolis, some of the leading lights of the Minnesota Hip Hop community came together to both raise money for TruArtSpeaks and celebrate the birthday of the organization’s founder and Executive Director, Tish Jones. From the legend, I Self Devine, to up-and-coming artists like BdotCroc and Dem Atlas, to longtime friends and allies K.Raydio, Guante, and Crescent Moon, the stage featured one unforgettable performance after another. Host Danez Smith and DJ Kool Akiem held us down all night long, and b-boy crews Deadpool and MN Real showcased once again the spirit and vitality of Hip Hop culture. THANK YOU to everyone who performed, and to everyone who came out to support. Let’s do it again. Photos coming soon.

We’ve got a lot more on the horizon! Keep in touch: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr.

RECAP: The 2017 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series FINALS

Thank you. For the fifth year in a row, the Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series Finals bout was an unforgettable testament to the talent, wisdom, and power of Minnesota youth.

Performing in front of a SOLD OUT McGuire theater (in the Walker Art Center), the final 12 poets from the series left it all on the stage, sharing their stories, their opinions, their values, and their art. It was an evening of deeply personal work, fearlessly political work, adventurous and surprising work, and honest work.

The final six: Lana, Armand, Harun, Amir, Asher, and Katherine!

When the dust settled, the top six (in no particular order) were Armand, Asher, Katherine, Lana, Amir, and Harun. Now, these six poets will form the 2017 Be Heard cohort, both engaging in performances and civic engagement opportunities throughout the state, and representing Minnesota at the 2017 Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam and Festival in San Francisco this July.

Thank you to the Walker, especially Walker Teen Arts Program (WACTAC). Thank you to the media present– from our partners Ubuntu Media and Uche Iroegbu, to Twin Cities Public Television and KRSM radio.

Thank you to our judges: Carolyn Holbrook, Neil Hilborn, Dua Saleh, Andrea Jenkins, and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, all incredible, inspiring artists. Thank you to our DJ: DJ Just Nine. Thank you to our host as well: the incomparable Danez Smith.

Thank you to our feature, Tony the Scribe, as well as both of our sacrificial poets– both Isha Camara and Simone Williams qualified to compete, but had to drop out of the competition due to schedule conflicts arising from their getting accepted into the First Wave program at UW-Madison. They’ll be joining current TruArtSpeaks youth advisory board member (and former Be Heard team member) Duncan Slagle at UW this Fall, and the whole TruArtSpeaks family is both honored to have worked with them and excited to witness what comes next.

Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, youth advisory board members, and everyone who simply pitched in to help make the event (and the whole series) happen. Thanks to all of the parents, guardians, teachers, and community supporters who continue to power youth voice through their donations, their support, their mentorship, and their applause.

Finally, thank you to the poets. When we say “the point is not the points, the point is the poetry,” we mean it, and we know you do too. Thank you for your bravery, your perspective, and your heart. Let’s keep building.

Check out this slideshow for just a taste of how it all went down. All photos by Uche Iroegbu:

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The #BeHeard17 FINALS Bout is Here! Reserve Your Tickets Now!

Through five preliminary bouts and two wild semifinal rounds, Minnesota poets between the ages of 13 and 19 told their stories, shared their art, and reaffirmed the importance of speaking up and speaking out, now more than ever. On March 25, at the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater, the final twelve poets will perform their most powerful work, competing for a chance to join the 2017 Be Heard Cohort and represent Minnesota at the 20th Annual Brave New Voices youth poetry slam festival this July in San Francisco, CA.

Organized by TruArtSpeaks, the Be Heard series is about celebrating—and respecting—youth voice. Regardless of who the final six poets are, “the points are not the point; the point is the poetry.” Poetry slams are competitions, but they’re also spaces in which young people can tell their stories and speak out on the issues that matter to them. For five years in a row, Minnesota youth have risen to that challenge, and Finals 2017 promises to be an unforgettable night of poetry, protest, and possibility.

Event Details:
Saturday, March 25 at the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater
6:30pm Doors, 7pm Show.
$7 for Students and Walker members, $10 for Adults
Reserve your tickets now!

Submit Now for Your Chance to Become the First Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate!

With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (as part of its Knight Arts Challenge), TruArtSpeaks is excited to announce that submissions are now open for the Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate Program.

The contest is open to youth between the ages of 16 and 24 with a current Saint Paul address and a passion for poetry, community and social change. The contest’s winner will be mentored by award-winning poet Danez Smith for one full year, produce a chapbook of original work, and more.

Interested youth should submit three work samples in a pdf file via this form. 

Submissions* deadline is March 31, 2017, at 11:59pm.

From those written submissions, five judges will select ten poets (announced on April 24, 2017) to compete in a live performance of their work at Saint Paul’s Black Dog Café on May 19, 2017 at 7pm. The winner of that poetry slam will be the first Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate.

*Submissions do not need to be the same poems that you plan to compete with should you advance into the competition. Submissions should be the best representation of your work as a writer and engaged member of society.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once owned newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

 

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About the Poet Mentor

Danez Smith is a Black, queer, poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017) and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and the John C. Zacharis Award from Ploughshares. Danez is also the author of two chapbooks, black movie (2015, Button Poetry), winner of the Button Poetry Prize, and hands on your knees (2013, Penmanship Books). They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. Danez’s work has been featured widely including in on Buzzfeed, Blavity, PBS NewsHour, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. They are a 2-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, 3-time Rustbelt Poetry Slam Champion, and a founding member of the Dark Noise Collective

 

April 15, 2017: THE ENDOWMENT

THE ENDOWMENT is a celebration of Hip Hop culture and the spirit of resistance that drives it. Featuring some of the most dynamic, boundary-pushing performers in the Twin Cities hip hop scene, as well as dancers, poets, and the legendary DJ Kool Akiem on the wheels of steel, the intergenerational lineup is based around the theme of “what we inherit, we pass on.” In that spirit, the show is also a fundraiser for Twin Cities organization TruArtSpeaks, as well as the birthday celebration of the organization’s founder, Tish Jones.

April 15, 2017 at Icehouse in Minneapolis | 21+ | Doors at 10:30pm
Tickets are available now ($10 in advance, $15 at the door)

MEET THE ARTISTS:

I SELF DEVINE: Chaka Mkali, also known as I Self Devine, is a musician, Mc, community organizer, racial justice trainer, graffiti artist, muralist, program coordinator and director of organizing and community building at Hope Community Center in Minneapolis. As an Mc, I Self is known as an integral part of the Atlanta and Twin Cities underground Hip Hop community as ½ of the duo Micranots, ½ of Semi Official, ¼ of the Dynospectrum, and as a soloist. Over the last decade I Self has released over 10 albums of political conscious socially aware music capable of moving the crowd as well as uplift the spirit and sustain the movement.

DEM ATLAS: Since signing to indie heavyweight Rhymesayers Entertainment in late 2013, deM atlaS hasn’t wasted any time in spreading his brand of Hip-Hop music across the world. Steadily on the road since his signing, he was able to find the time to release his unofficial debut, DWNR, in late 2014.

BDOTCROC: Brynne Crockett, also known as BdotCroc, has been rapping since the age of eight years old. She was born and raised in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Bdot started her official music career in 2008 after she graduated high school by recording and writing music and then performing at any venue granted to her. Fans and supporters would say “She’s not dope for a FEMALE MC, she’s a DOPE MC.”

GUANTE: Guante is an MC, two-time National Poetry Slam champion, activist and educator based in Minneapolis. His work has been featured on Upworthy, Welcome to Night Vale, Everyday Feminism, the Huffington Post, and beyond, garnering over ten million views online. Guante has also performed live at the United Nations, as well as countless colleges, universities, and conferences, where he uses art as an entry point into deeper conversations about identity, power, empathy, and resistance.

CRESCENT MOON W/ ANDREW BRODER: Crescent Moon (of Kill the Vultures, Mixed Blood Majority, Oddjobs) teams up with Andrew Broder (of Fog, The Cloak Ox) to make music as dark, challenging, and furious as the times in which we live.

K.RAYDIO: No dashes or spaces. Soul based. Hip hop embraced. Writer and vocalist raised in Minneapolis, MN. Defying convention since 1988.

DJ KOOL AKIEM: From underground mixtapes in the early nineties and the various Micranots releases, to 2006’s Mixtape Deluxe, DJ Kool Akiem formerly of the Micranots and DJ for MF DOOM has been providing a steady diet of funk to the public for years now. Lacing ornate and eclectic samples over rugged drum hits and 808 kicks, Kool Akiem’s productions have a distinct feeling that provide just the right amount of stimulation not to take attention away from the lyrics of his various collaborators. While most producers stick to a time-tested formula, Kool Ak constantly keeps it fresh by reinventing his production style without losing the urgent bump that folks have grown to expect from his tracks.

FEATURING DANCE CREWS MN REAL AND DEADPOOL!

AND HOSTED BY DANEZ SMITH

That’s a one-of-a-kind lineup, all for a great cause. We can’t wait to see you there!

Register Now for the 3rd Annual Flip the Script! Youth Writing and Performance Conference

Flip the Script! is an annual writing and performance conference where poets between the ages of 13 and 19 engage with professional artists and arts organizers through workshops, panel discussions, community-building, and more. Presented by TruArtSpeaks, and held at the Loft Literary Center, the conference’s third installment will be held on Sunday, February 19, 2017.

#FTS3 will feature leading voices in the national spoken word movement, including Danez Smith, Zhalarina Sanders, Donte Collins, Ed Bok Lee, Andrea Jenkins, Ollie Schminkey, R. Vincent Moniz Jr., Jake Virden, and Khary Jackson, as well as dozens of youth poets sharing their stories and sharpening each other’s skills. Register here!

Also, don’t forget about the #FTS3 pre-celebration: a one-night-only production of Zhalarina Sanders’ ROSE GOLD at the Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis on Saturday, February 18, 2017, at 7pm. 

A few of the people you’ll meet at #FTS3 (L-R in the image), plus workshop descriptions:

Andrea Jenkins is an artist-activist, and award-winning poet and writer. Andrea has been awarded fellowships from the Bush Foundation, Intermedia Arts, and the Playwrights Center and has won writing and performance grants and scholarships from the Givens Foundation, Intermedia Arts, The Loft, the Napa Valley Writers Conference, and Pillsbury House Theater. Andrea is the co-curator of Queer Voices at Intermedia Arts, the longest-running series of its kind in the nation, and currently works collecting oral histories from hundreds of people in the Upper Midwest transgender community as an Oral Historian in the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies.

Ed Bok Lee is the author of two poetry collections, Real Karaoke People (New Rivers Press), a winner of the PEN/Open Book Award and Asian American Literary Award (Members’ Choice) in 2006, and Whorled (Coffee House Press), a winner of the Minnesota Book Award and American Book Award in 2012. Lee grew up in South Korea, North Dakota and Minnesota. As a translator, most recently his work features the poetry of Kim Ki Taek (in Korean Literature Now, Winter 2017). Website.

Donte Collins is a poet. They are the author of Autopsy (2017) and winner of the 2016 Most Promising Young Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets. Collins is the recipient of the 2016 Mitchell Prize in Poetry and is currently a junior at Augsburg College. They are an alum of TruArtSpeaks, a non-profit arts organization based out of the Twin Cities cultivating literacy, leadership and social justice through the study & application of Hip Hop culture.

Ollie Schminkey is a white, non-binary transgender poet/musician/artist.  They facilitate, direct, and host many organizations, including a weekly writing workshop called Well-Placed Commas.  They have also represented the Twin Cities in numerous national poetry competitions, and they are the proud author of their second chapbook, You Are Sad and That Sucks a Lot.  You can find them touring nationally or in print in a bunch of cool lit mags.  Feel free to check them out on their website, or on Button Poetry. 

  • Ollie’s Workshop: Telling Truth: A Poetry Workshop- All levels of writers are welcome to join us in a writing workshop where we will explore nuanced and effective ways to tell your story.  How do you write part of your truth for an audience that might be very different from you (without sacrificing yourself in the process)? How do you write your truth for the people who already know you best?   This is a casual, non-judgmental environment– Bring writing materials, a good attitude, and your friends!

Zhalarina Sanders is a rapper/actress/producer from Tampa, FL who serves as co-founder and Executive Director of The JVN Project, an organization that seeks to use Hip-Hop as a tool of empowerment, and is a graduate student of counseling psychology at UW-Madison. She has had the opportunity to travel and be awarded for her work in theatre and music, appearing on stages such as Broadway in New York and the Queen Elizabeth theatre in London, England. Currently, Zhalarina splits her time between the completion of her first rap album, Again, and working toward a tour of her one-person Hip-Hop theatre piece, Rose Gold.

  • Zhalarina’s Workshop: Rose Gold: Mental Health and Performance Art: The purpose of this workshop is to address the psychosocial experiences of performance artists. We will be debunking myths and misconceptions about artist mental health and focusing on how to accomplish psychological wellbeing through, by, and for the stage. 

Jake Virden is a community organizer, emcee, and practitioner of popular education from NE Minneapolis. Jake has been an active performer and curator in the Twin Cities Hip-Hop community for almost a decade, putting in work on the stage  from Soundset to the Re-Verb Open Mic. In  2016, Jacob released an EP titled The Longest Bridge in collaboration with TC luminary Toki Wright. Check out more music with OFF-10 partners Scoundrel Spence, and Ryan B.U.G.S. Virden here. Additionally, Jake is currently the lead organizer for the Parks and Power campaign, based at Hope Community in South Minneapolis. Parks and Power is a grassroots effort to transform the Minneapolis Park Board and move race conscious public policy at the local level. Check out Parks and Power on twitter at @parksandpower.

Danez Smith is a Black, queer, poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017) and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and the John C. Zacharis Award from Ploughshares. Danez is also the author of two chapbooks, black movie (2015, Button Poetry), winner of the Button Poetry Prize, and hands on your knees (2013, Penmanship Books). They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. Danez’s work has been featured widely including in on Buzzfeed, Blavity, PBS NewsHour, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. They are a 2-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, 3-time Rustbelt Poetry Slam Champion, and a founding member of the Dark Noise Collective.

  • Danez’s workshop: Finding Honey in the Rock – A Workshop of Obsession: What can’t you shake? What constantly comes back to you? What never leaves? In this workshop, we will talk about the obsessions that capture us for a season and obsessions that follow us for a lifetime. Designed for experienced and new writers alike, this workshop ask us to dive deeper into ourselves and find new language and new knowledge in the topics that we return to in our writing and our personal journeys. This workshop offers tools useful for overcoming writer’s block, for building or refining a manuscript or project, & for finding new entrances into our own work.

R. Vincent Moniz Jr.: An active force in the Twin Cities artistic community, R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. has received numerous literary awards and fellowships for his writing and live performances, most recently Vincent became a fiscal year 2017 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. At the E. Donald Two Rivers memorial SLAM, Moniz became the current and reigning Individual World Poetry SLAM’s Indigenous SLAM Champion. He has performed his poetry all over the Twin Cities and has recently started accepting invites internationally. A Nu’Eta tribal member, he is an enrolled citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes located within North Dakota on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation. Vincent was raised in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis and you can find his poems all over the neighborhood. Look for Vincent’s collection of poems out of MSU Press in 2017 and find videos of his live performances at Redoubted.com. Booking requests can be sent to Vincent@redoubted.com.

Khary Jackson is a poet, playwright, dancer and musician. He is an alumnus of Cave Canem, the esteemed writing fellowship for black writers. He has written 12 plays, one of which (Water) was produced in 2009 at Ink and Pulp Theatre in Chicago. He has been a recipient of several grants, including the 2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship in Writing, the Minnesota State Arts Board’s 2012 Cultural Community Partnership Grant and 2010 Artist Initiative Grant for Poetry, as well as the 2009 VERVE Spoken Word Grant from Intermedia Arts. His first poetry book, Any Psalm You Want, was published with Write Bloody Publishing in the spring of 2013.

  • Khary’s Workshop: Participants will actively engage with their writing both vocally and physically, moving beyond the presentational style and towards a more theatrical and movement based approach. They will also collaborate with fellow poets to create mini performances, to experience the creative work that goes into the collaborative pieces that they will create if they make the team. By the end of the workshop participants will leave with some additional ideas for how poems can be conceived and performed.

AND MORE! Aside from all of these brilliant artists, Flip the Script! is about young poets building with one another. This is a non-competitive space for everyone to have fun, sharpen their skills, and build community through art. Once again, poets between 13-19 years old can register here, for free.

A few images from last year’s conference:

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Are You Ready for the #BeHeard17 Kick Off?!

Are You Ready for the #BeHeard17 Kick Off?!

This Saturday, at 7:00p at the Black Dog Cafe in Saint Paul, we launch into a season of heart wrenching, thoughtful and eloquent poetry by young Minnesotans – will you be there!

Through a series of eight poetry slams, Be Heard seeks to identify six youth poets who will both represent Minnesota at the annual international Brave New Voices youth poetry slam and festival in San Francisco in summer 2017, and serve as the #BeHeard17 cohort for the duration of the year, receiving mentorship in writing, performing, and arts leadership.

While the competition element of the series represents an incredible opportunity for the top six poets, the series itself is set up as a space for everyone—from youth slam veterans, to first-timers, to the audience itself—to build community through art, present counter-narratives, and call into being the world in which we want to live. As always, “the points are not the point; the point is the poetry!”

For poets interested in registering for #Beheard17, there is still time! Click here to sign up for an upcoming preliminary bout!

Find additional ways to get involved at www.TruArtSpeaks.org, and on social media: @TruArtSpeaks. The hashtag for the series is #BeHeard17. _____________________________________________________________

Mark Your Calendars: TruArtSpeaks presents “Rose Gold” written and performed by Zhalarina Sanders at 7:00p on Saturday February 18th, 2017 at Pillsbury House Theater!

Through the mediums monologue, poetry, and rap, Rose Gold recounts the tragedy of black motherhood and the glory of its daughters. This one-person play explores the relations of black women in light of traumas old and new. Bobbie- Marilyn is a mother. It is her most painful reality. Consumed with guilt, she is determined to correct a mistake from her past, realizing that there may be greater obstacles in the way of this than her own sister.

This special, one-night-only showing of “Rose Gold” is tied to TruArtSpeaks’ “Flip the Script!” conference the following day, where Sanders will be working with MN teen poets and guarantees a packed house! Reserve your tickets now! _____________________________________________________________

Are you a youth poet interested in simply sharpening your skills in a community filled with your peers? The #FTS3 is for you!
The 3rd annual Flip the Script! Writing & Performance conference is a space for young writers to zero in on craft and presentation. Sign up now! 

 

 

 

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 #ReVerbOpenMic promises to be filled with high poetic energy in the coming weeks. Featuring poets, excess and singers like Alicia Steele, Donte Collins and BDotCroc with attendees such as yourself! This is going to be a great season!
See you at Golden Thyme Cafe from 6-8p every Thursday! _____________________________________________________________

 #ReVerbOpenMic is back in full effect for 2017 and brings to you a NEW HOST! Please welcome Armand McCoy, TruArtSpeaks and #BeHeard program alumnus to the open mic family!

Born in March of 98, Armand Fenelon McCoy is an 18 year old Poet based in Minnesota. Growing up in the midway area of Saint Paul, he attended French Immersion for 7 years, where his first writings emerged as rhyming poems and fast paced short stories. Having always been interested in the arts, Armand picked up the violin in elementary school, played for 3 few years, then switched to the piano, and has been practicing Blues and Jazz piano since. Throughout his life,  he’s expanded his writing style to the realms of hip/hop lyrics and raps, mythopoeic works, prose, slam, and many other established forms of poetry. Armand ventured into the local poetry scene in 2012 when he started performing at open mics in the twin cities. He became involved with TruArtSpeaks through the Soul Sounds Open Mic, (Now the Re-Verb Open Mic) and was drawn to their programs, including their slam series.

He competed in the 2015 Be Heard MN Poetry Slam Series and made a team, that went on to represent Minnesota at the Brave New Voices National Poetry Festival, which took place in Atlanta GA that year. Minnesota placed 3rd at Semi-Finals, and Armand was even selected to perform a piece on the finals stage as the sacrificial poet of the night. He has since started a year long internship with TruArtSpeaks, and looks forward to participating in their slam series again this January. Other plans for the near future involve releasing a chapbook, a mixtape, and staying active in the streets. _____________________________________________________________

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As always, connect with us on social media via @truartspeaks and we will see you at an event!

Give the Gift of Poetry: Donate, Volunteer and Be Heard!

Be the Reason this Season of Be Heard Impacts Youth Across the State of MN: Donate Now

Every ending brings about a new beginning and the close of the year is no different. As we reflect on the significant social, political and arts based events of 2016 we make a major pivot towards one of the most inspiring events in our community, the Be Heard MN youth poetry slam series. Young people throughout the sate are sharpening their pencils, typing long into the evening and rehearsing diligently for the upcoming series in hopes to join the cohort of youth representing MN as the #BeHeard17 cohort.
 
Last but not least, not only did we expand our reach to include a preliminary bout in Duluth, MN, we have significantly restructured the program; six brilliant young writers will still attend Brave New Voices as representatives of the larger youth poetry community in MN while simultaneously serving as ambassadors in our local community under the mentorship of Khary Jackson and Kyra Calvert and the TruArtSpeaks team through the end of 2017. 
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Meet the Coaches! 

Kyra Crawford Calvert is a silver-tongued time traveler who catalogs the lessons of her navigation through script[ure]. Her soul-mission is to water the Seed of Divinity ever present in herself and her fellows, especially those with skin from crimson to midnight. Kyra is a 2016 Givens Foundation for African American Literature Writers’ Fellow and received the VERVE Grant for Spoken Word Poets via Intermedia Arts in 2014. Urban Griots nominated her ‘Best New Spoken Word Artist of the Year’ in 2008, and her essay work is featured in Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota. She also performs as DJ Black Fish Gold and can be heard on Desdamona’s latest record No Man’s Land.

Khary Jackson is a performance poet, playwright, dancer and musician.  A Detroit native, he currently resides in the Twin Cities where he serves as a teaching artist and writer.  He is a Cave Canem Fellow, and has further reasons to love black people.  He has written 12 full length plays, one of which (Water) was produced in 2009 at Ink and Pulp Theatre in Chicago.  He has been a recipient of several grants, including the 2010 Artist Initiative Grant for poetry from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the 2009 VERVE Spoken Word Grant from Intermedia Arts, and the Many Voices Residency from the Playwrights’ Center, in 2005-06 and 2007-08.  As a performance poet, he has enjoyed great success in national competition, ranking nationally in 2007, 2008 and 2009, as well as winning the National Poetry Slam with the St Paul team in 2009 and 2010.  But few of us really care about all that.  He’s a little weird, but rest assured, there’s a method to the way he stares into your house. ______________________________________________________________

Click here to make a tax deductible donation in support of #BeHeard17 and TruArtSpeaks ______________________________________________________________

Write to Be Heard is Happening Right Now!!! Be sure to stop by and warm your pens before the first preliminary bout. The internet phenom Guante will be leading each workshop, don’t miss your opportunity to learn from one of the greatest writers of our time!

The 3rd Annual Flip the Script Conference is just around the corner as well;Register Here!

Interested in volunteering e-mail info@truartspeaks.org

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Get Your #BeHeard17 Swag!

Order your swag early and get it for a reduced rate!

Hoodies: $35.00

T-Shirt: $15.00

Purchase Here
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Remember, #ReVerbOpenMic is on break until January 5th, 2017. See you all in the New Year!

 

Get Your #BeHeard17 Swag NOW!!!

Lean into #BeHeard17 early with official swag items! Order them NOW at a discounted price just in time for the first preliminary bout at the Black Dog Cafe in Saint Paul on January 14th, 2017! All swag items will be on sale for full price once the series begins. Get yours early!

Available in either red or white:

Advanced Hoodie: $35.00

Advanced T-Shirt: $15.00

 

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