Submissions Open: Bookmark & Magnetic Poetry Contests!

#Power #Youth #Voice with TruArtSpeaks by submitting to our Bookmark and Magnetic Poetry contests!

We are looking for 50 word excerpts from 5 poems to print on a limited edition of TruArtSpeaks bookmarks. We welcome submissions from everyone in the TruArtSpeaks network. The winners of this contest will receive five bookmarks and a $50 honorarium! Hurry – Submissions close on October 3rd, 2016 at 5:00p – winners will be announced on October 31st, 2016.

We are looking for one set of 50 words related to the mission, vision, arts and culture focus of TruArtSpeaks to transform into a set of magnetic poetry to share with the community. The winner of this contest will win five sets of the magnetic poetry collection and a $100 honorarium! We welcome submissions from everyone in the TruArtSpeaks network. HurrySubmissions close on October 3rd, 2016 at 5:00p – winners will be announced on October 31st, 2016.

Youth Advisory Board Applications

YAB App Call

Comprised of young leaders within the TruArtSpeaks network, the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) consists of six members between the ages of 16-24 years old. The YAB advises the leadership for all youth programs, organizes and plans events, and promotes the organization and its vision. Because TruArtSpeaks is an organization founded on principles of shared power and youth voice, the YAB is an essential component of the work that we do, providing a clear pathway from audience to participant to organizer to leader.

The Youth Advisory Board meets twice monthly with a member of the leadership committee present as support staff. The YAB term runs from October 2016 to July 2017. At the close of the year, each member is given a stipend of $1,000.00 for their investment in the growth of TruArtSpeaks. We ask that each member of YAB commit to serving the organization for 12hours every two weeks.

By interweaving professional development opportunities into the YAB sessions, members will have a consistent space to develop their skills as organizers and leaders of an emerging non-profit and community stakeholders. Members can maintain their seat until they exceed the age limitations; there is no maximum number of terms associated with YAB membership.

Youth Advisory Board Positions:

  • Be Heard – Join the team that helps send a delegation of youth poets to the annual Brave New Voices youth poetry slam festival
  • #ReVerbOpenMic – Join the team that powers one of the state’s most impactful community spaces
  • Special Projects – Be a part of the unique performance and social justice opportunities that ensure our work is rooted in community need, active engagement and artistic excellence
  • Outreach – Help us invite more people into the family
  • Data Collection – Help us archive and tell the story of our work and who engages with us
  • Literary Innovation Troupe (L.I.T.) – Be a core part of the publication, editing and workshopping of LIT participants’ work as they journey towards chapbook publication
  • Youth Liaison – Serve as a peer connection and point of entry into the family of TruArtSpeaks

If this sounds of interest to you, apply here. If you have questions, please email info@truartspeaks.org

Black Voices at Washburn High School, #ReVerbOpenMic + More!

YAB App CallThe TruArtSpeaks Youth Advisory Board Applications are Now Open!

Are you a young person between 16-24 interested in activating your voice and leadership as a member of the TruArtSpeaks family? Then this is just the place for you! We a re looking for a group of eight young leaders from the Twin Cities area to serve as a core group of advisors on all youth programming within our organization. You would work closely with the leadership of TruArtSpeaks to serve and support:

  • Be Heard
  • Re-Verb Open Mic
  • Outreach
  • And more!

Each member of Y.A.B. will be given a small honorarium at the end of their one year term (July 2017). Visit our website to learn more about YAB, TruArtSpeaks and the opportunity to steer the work into the future. Hurry! Applications close September 16th, 2016 at 5:00p.


#ReVerbOpenMic is back and better than ever! Be sure to check out the flier and stop by Golden Thyme Cafe for one of the most community centered open mic in the Twin Cities. Previously voted “Best in the Twin Citis” by the City Pages, Re-Verb takes place every Thursday from 6-8p in the Heart of the Historic Rondo District in Saint Paul and welcomes your voice! See you there.

Oh! Don’t forget about the writing workshop every first Thursday at 4:30p!


#Power #Youth #Voice with TruArtSpeaks by submitting to our Bookmark and Magnetic Poetry contests!

We are looking for 50 word excerpts from 5 poems to print on a limited edition of TruArtSpeaks bookmarks. We welcome submissions from everyone in the TruArtSpeaks network. The winners of this contest will receive five bookmarks and a $50 honorarium! Hurry – Applications close on October 3rd, 2016 at 5:00p – winners will be announced on October 31st, 2016.

We are looking for one set of 100 words related to the mission, vision, arts and culture focus of TruArtSpeaks to transform into a set of magnetic poetry to share with the community. The winner of this contest will win five sets of the magnetic poetry collection and a $100 honorarium! We welcome submissions from everyone in the TruArtSpeaks network. Hurry– Applications close on October 3rd, 2016 at 5:00p – winners will be announced on October 31st, 2016.


TruArtSpeaks just launched a year long course, Black Voices, at Washburn High School centered on providing MPLS students an opportunity to engage with black literature, theory and poetry during the school day. This course is collaboratively taught by Molly Vasich and TruArtSpeaks alum, Keno Evol, in partnership with Washburn High School and the U of M with support from the National Writing Project.


“Are You Thirsty (Remix),” a multi-disciplinary performance theater production about the global water crisis is now touring! Starring TruArtSpeaks alum, Laresa Avent, Hasani Harris and Duncan Slagle this thought provoking production uses element son Hip Hop, Spoken Word and Puppet Theater to address one of the world’s greatest concerns. Brought to you in part by TruArtSpeaks, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet & Mask Theater and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, its fun, participatory and ready for a stage near you! Click here to bring this play to your school or organization!


Brave New Voices Recap + Duncan and Eshay on Finals Stage!

IMG_2915Home. First things first: the team and the TruArtSpeaks staff would like to thank all of our supporters here in MN for making this trip possible. Everyone who came to a show, donated some money, bought a shirt, or just made some noise– thank you. The 2016 Brave New Voices festival and poetry slam was an unforgettable experience, and while the Twin Cities team didn’t make it to Finals this year (though we did make semifinals!), the team performed beautifully and brought their most meaningful work to a national/international stage. Most importantly, MN poets got to forge relationships with other young change-makers from across the globe, building and strengthening networks that transcend poetry slams.

Between hearing from internationally-renowned poet Amir Sulaiman, participating in multiple workshops and town hall meetings, taking in the sights of DC, and performing in (plus rehearsing for) the slam itself, the team had a very busy week. Check out a few captured moments in this slideshow:

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Another highlight of the week was the response that Duncan and Eshay’s duo piece (about Andrew Jackson and Harriet Tubman sharing space on the $20 bill) got, including after a special performance on FINALS stage. We’ll share video as soon as we can!

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One of the most important aspects of a festival like BNV is being able to build with people from all over the world. Check out the team intro/chant reel, including the Twin Cities (second in the video):

We will post any video of the team as it is made available, but for now– check out Danez Smith’s poem at opening ceremonies. Danez was also interviewed in this Huffington Post piece (along with Daveed Diggs of “Hamilton”) on “Why Poetry is the Best Medium for Kids Who Want to Change the World.” That piece also includes a number of videos from BNV, including this one:

It is good to be home. And as we’ve said all year, Brave New Voices is just one place where this work happens. It also happens here in MN, in many spaces, with many people. The ReVerb open mic is still every Thursday, 6-8pm, at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul. Other events and opportunities are on the horizon. Stay tuned for more!

Send Off Recap + Brave New Voices Is Almost Here!

photo by Uche Iroegbu

photo by Uche Iroegbu

Thank you for powering youth voice and making the 2016 Be Heard Send Off Show such a success. Check out the slideshow for a recap of just some of the magic. All photos by Uche Iroegbu.

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Next up is Brave New Voices. The team has been writing, practicing, and building with each other since the end of March, and they’re ready to rep Minnesota at the festival. Check out this promo from YouthSpeaks:

You can still support the team’s trip through our GiveMN page. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated. Follow the team’s progress on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram too.

Finally, remember that Be Heard is just ONE of many ways we can build together. The #ReVerb all-ages open mic is still going strong, every Thursday, 6pm at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul. See you there!

This Friday: THE SEND OFF (Update Announcing Special Guests) + Rooted Recap and more!

2016 Be Heard MN Send Off Image

The #BeHeard16 Send Off Show is this Friday (June 17): 7pm at the UMN Rarig Center’s Thrust Theatre. Tickets will be available at the door, but you can also reserve yours ahead of time here.

The Send Off is the last chance to see the whole 2016 Be Heard team in action before they head to Washington DC this July to represent Minnesota at Brave New Voices. The team will also be joined on stage by some of our community’s boldest and most experienced voices: Desdamona, Danez Smith, Guante, and Khary Jackson, as well as members of the TruArtSpeaks Youth Advisory Board (including Isha Camara, Keno Evol, Fatima Camara, and Donte Collins; member Chava Gabrielle will also be co-hosting). This is a very special lineup featuring some of TruArtSpeaks’ family, and we can’t wait for you to see the show.

We have been (and will continue to be) posting videos from some of our guests on Twitter and on the Facebook event page’s wall. Check them out!


photo: DigieMade Photography

Huge thanks to everyone who made ROOTED: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening at Intermedia Arts such a success, including the organizers, artists, and everyone who came to see the three sold-out shows.

Members of the Be Heard team performed on all three nights; even TruArtSpeaks’ Executive Director Tish Jones got on the mic.

Check out a slideshow of images from the production here.

Also, be sure to check out Intermedia Arts’ other upcoming events, programs, and opportunities here.


seemore reverbFinally, while we gear up for the Send Off and the Brave New Voices trip, remember that the ReVerb open mic is still going strong, every Thursday evening at 6pm at Golden Thyme Cafe (921 Selby Ave.) in St. Paul. Every first Thursday also features a free workshop session at 4pm for anyone looking to sharpen their skills.

ReVerb is free and all-ages, so no matter how much experience you do or don’t have, swing through and share a piece, get some feedback, and/or just listen to others. It’s a space for us to build community and have some fun, each week.


As always, keep in touch via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr for updates!

The 2016 Be Heard Send Off Show + More Big Spring Updates!

2016 sendoff teaser banner2Just announced: the annual BE HEARD SEND OFF SHOW will be Friday, June 17, 2016 at the U of MN Rarig Center’s Thrust Theatre (7pm, $5, all ages). This will be the final opportunity to see the Be Heard team in action (along with some incredible surprise guests) before they head to Washington DC to represent Minnesota at the annual international youth poetry slam and festival Brave New Voices! Aside from Finals, the Send Off is our biggest show of the year; we can’t wait to show our community what the team has been up to. Reserve your tickets here!

It should also be noted that this year’s festival director is none other than Tish Jones, founder and Executive Director of TruArtSpeaks! We’re beyond excited to be plugged into this national movement of artists, educators, activists, and movement-builders in such a powerful way through Tish’s work.


Coach Khary Jackson and members of the Be Heard team.

Coach Khary Jackson facilitating practice.

With BNV right around the corner, spring has been all about practice. That means writing new work, collaborating on group poems, refining performance techniques, and growing as artists. Along with coach Khary Jackson, Be Heard program associate Fatima Camara, and guest artists like Kyra Calvert and Guante, the team has been putting in work to sharpen their craft and continue to use the stage as a space of power and potential.

Two ways that you can power youth voice and support the team (beyond coming to the Send Off) are donating online here and buying a Be Heard t-shirt or hoodie here! Every donation expands the cypher!


rootedOther Upcoming Events:

  • May 21: Youth Leadership Day at the Midtown Farmers Market (2225 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis). The Be Heard team will be performing at 10:15am, 11am and 12pm. Check the link for more info.
  • June 9, 10, and 11 at Intermedia Arts: ROOTED: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening. Winner of the 2014 Sage Award for Outstanding Dance Performance, ROOTED is a celebration of the foundations of Hip Hop. The first and only choreographers’ evening focused exclusively on Hip Hop dance and its roots (African, Latin, Tap, Step, Breaking, Popping, Locking, Toprock, Waacking, House, Old School and New School), ROOTED is celebrating its fifth year. The Be Heard team will be performing at all three shows, and TruArtSpeaks ED Tish Jones will be at the June 9 and June 10 shows. Reserve tickets here!
  • Every Thursday at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul: The ReVerb Open Mic is still the best place to show up, plug in, and get involved! 921 Selby Ave. in St. Paul. 6pm. Free. All ages! (And don’t forget about the writing workshop every first Thursday of the month at 4pm).

TruArtSpeaks Receives First Universalist Foundation GrantUU-Blog-Logo

A huge thank you to the First Universalist Foundation, who selected TruArtSpeaks as one of the recipients of their Spring 2016 granting cycle. That $5,000 will support the Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series, helping that program reach as many young people as it can, and continue to make a positive impact on our community.


We will be releasing videos from Finals very soon; in the meantime, be sure to check out the TruArtSpeaks YouTube page for any you may have missed. One of the easiest and most important ways to power youth voice is to LISTEN to them!youtube page


Stay tuned for more! As always, we are on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram!

#BeHeard16 Finals Recap and THANKS!

Be Heard Top 6 with Logo

On Saturday, March 26, the 2016 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series came to an unforgettable close. In front of hundreds of audience members inside the packed McGuire Theater at the Walker Art Center, twelve young poets shared their stories and left it all on the stage. At the end of the night, Amir, Sydney, Harun, Eshay, Duncan, and Yasmin were the top six and (if they choose to) will go on to represent Minnesota at this year’s Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam and Festival in Washington DC. Congratulations to them, and endless thanks to all of the poets who gave so much all series-long!

The evening showcased too many beautiful moments to recap in full here; check out the slideshow below (photos by Uche Iroegbu) for a taste of how powerful the energy was in that space:

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We’ll post videos soon, but in the meantime: THANK YOU! to all of the staff, volunteers, interns, judges, features, media, audience, donors, sponsors, partners and everyone. Thank you to the Walker Art Center (as well as the Loft Literary Center, the MacPhail Center for Music, Roosevelt High, Southwest High, Intermedia Arts, Walker West Music Academy, and Patrick’s Cabaret). Thank you to everyone who shared a link, brought people to a slam, or helped support this work in any way. Most of all, thank you to the poets: for your courage, your talent, and your willingness to share so much of yourselves with us. We can’t wait to keep building with ALL of you.

While #BeHeard16 has ended, our work hasn’t. Watch out for an announcement about the big sendoff show in June, plus other events featuring the team between now and then; also, we’ll see you at the Re-Verb open mic, still every Thursday at 6pm at Golden Thyme Cafe!

#BeHeard16’s Thrilling Conclusion is Here!

Finals Flier FinalThrough seven packed, raucous preliminary and semifinal slams, twelve youth poets have emerged as the finalists in this year’s Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series organized by TruArtSpeaks.

At Finals, these twelve will share their work, tell their stories, and leave it all on the stage as they compete for five slots on the team that will head to Washington DC to represent Minnesota at the 2016 Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam Festival. As always, however, “the points are not the point; the point is the poetry,” and no matter who makes the team, the Finals slam promises to be one of the biggest, best, and most transformative Twin Cities arts events of the year.

Congratulations to the twelve finalists: Harun Abukar (Minneapolis), Yasmin Aden (Saint Paul), Eshay Brantley (Minneapolis), Sydney Holmes (Minneapolis), Cypress Kenney (Minneapolis), Amir Khadar (Brooklyn Center), Pierre Lawhon (Brooklyn Center), Olivia Mahedy-Wilson (Minneapolis), Mark Pekala (Minneapolis), Elizabeth Pierce (Saint Paul), Duncan Slagle (Mound), and Katherine Wagner (Buffalo).

Event Details:
Saturday, March 26 at the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater
7pm. $7 for Students, $10 for Adults; Reserve your tickets now!
Hosted by Danez Smith and Laresa Melody Avent


Semifinals Recap

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This year’s two semifinal bouts were both packed, proving yet again that here in Minnesota, our community is down to power youth voice. Huge thanks to everyone who attended, our judges, our two semifinal partner venues (The Loft Literary Center and MacPhail Center for Music), all of our partners in general, and especially the poets! Here’s a recap of semi #1, plus a poem from Eshay X!



Additional thanks to both the Twin Cities Daily Planet and 3-Minute Egg, who both ran gorgeous video features on the Be Heard series:


TruArtSpeaks is a 2016 LRNG Innovators Challenge Granteeeducator_innovator_logo_NWP

LRNG Innovators is challenging teachers themselves to reach beyond the schoolhouse door to develop partnerships and programs that connect in-school and out-of-school learning and create opportunities for young people to follow their interests and do ambitious work.” TruArtSpeaks is proud to be part of this challenge through our collaborative proposal:

From Classroom To Community Spaces: Cultivating Voices That Matter Through Arts Literacy
***TruArtSpeaks, Minnesota Writing Project, and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN***
This partnership seeks to bring in-school and out-of-school learning together through a collaboration of teachers and artists who prioritize creating space for the development of youth voices at the intersection of social justice, literacy, and arts. By designing a high school course together, From Classroom to Community Spaces will develop a curriculum anchored in contemporary African American literature, utilizing elements of Hip Hop and Spoken Word culture. Moving fluidly between the high school campus and local art space, this collaboration will meet the interests of students, provide equitable access to relevant coursework for students, and provide a space for students to develop their own voices in dialogue with contemporary African American texts and issues.


Job Opportunity with Graywolf Press

Our friends at Graywolf Press are seeking an organized, detail-oriented, and well-read person for the position of Editorial Assistant. If you’re looking to work in the world of publishing, check out the full job description here.


The Re-Verb Open Mic is Still Every Thursday Night

We’re all excited for Finals, but it’s also good to remember that the Be Heard slam series is only one way to get involved. Come build with us every Thursday night from 6pm-8pm at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul. Bring a piece, bring a friend; share something, give feedback, or just listen. This is where the work happens!

Keep in touch through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr too!

#BeHeard16 Swag!

IMG_5471#BeHeard16 Swag is now available! Power youth voice in style with a gold hoodie or t-shirt. Be in solidarity with the team when they travel to Brave New Voices this summer. Rock your hoodies and t-shirts at the same time as they rock theirs on the greatest stages Washington D.C. has to offer! 100% of the proceeds go towards expenses associated with travel to the festival.

Click here to place your order!

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