Note: this website is currently being renovated; in the meantime, however, here are a few TruArtSpeaks program descriptions:

photo by Uche Iroegbu

The Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series

The Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam series is a space for young people in MN to tell their stories, share their ideas, and be heard. It is also an annual competition that seeks to identify a cohort of six poets, residing in Minnesota, between the ages of 13-19, to be mentored in writing, performance, and arts leadership throughout the year and serve as state representatives at the annual international Brave New Voices youth poetry slam festival. Find more information here.

  • Write to Be Heard is a free, week-long spoken word workshop that takes place every December. It’s open to any poet between 13 and 19, but is also a perfect opportunity for anyone looking to dive into the Be Heard slams to get some feedback, create new work, or to prep for the series.
  • Flip the Script! is a free, day-long youth writing and performance conference that takes place in February. Be Heard semifinalists are required to attend, but the conference is also open to any young writer between 13 and 19. Participants engage in and with panel discussions, workshops, and other professional development opportunities, facilitated by some of the top writers and performers in the country.

The ReVerb Open Mic

ReVerb is a free, all-ages open mic that takes place every Thursday evening from 6-8pm at Golden Thyme Cafe in Saint Paul. For any young writers and performers looking for a place to showcase their work, network with others, or just have some fun, ReVerb offers a supportive, community-oriented space. The open mic is also intentionally set up as a space for dialogue; it isn’t just about spitting a poem and sitting down– it’s also about getting some feedback, or sparking a discussion. In that spirit, weekly writing prompts, themes, or guest artists are featured. ReVerb won the 2015 City Pages’ “Best Open Mic” award, and continues to be a very special space.

  • The ReVerb Workshop: every first Thursday of the month also features a workshop component at 4:30pm. Come do some writing, get some feedback, and sharpen  your craft!

The Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate Program

In 2017, 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. More information here.

The TruArtSpeaks Youth Advisory Board

Young people power the work of TruArtSpeaks, and the Youth Advisory Board is the most direct way that that happens. Each year, submissions open during the summer for a small cohort of young leaders to join the YAB, where they both help organize and manage TruArtSpeaks programs, and engage in a range of professional development opportunities. Keep checking back for application information.

Arts Education + Residency Work

TruArtSpeaks maintains a roster of some of the most experienced and powerful teaching artists in the country. To bring us to your school or community center– whether for a one-day visit, an extended residency, or a performance– contact us at (A full program page with more information is coming soon).

Black Voices at Washburn High School

In 2016, TruArtSpeaks 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, in partnership with Washburn High School and the U of MN, with support from the National Writing Project.

Other Programs, Annual Events, Past Programs, and More

  • The Send Off: Each June, that year’s Be Heard cohort performs the poems that they’ve been working on all Spring, alongside some special guest artists. The Send Off is both a celebration of youth voice, and the last chance for local supporters to see the cohort in action before they head off to Brave New Voices.
  • Page/Stage/Engage: Generally taking place in the Fall, this event explores the intersections of art (with a special focus on Hip Hop and Spoken Word) and social justice. Featuring poets, MCs, dancers and beyond, Page/Stage/Engage is always an unforgettable evening of poetry and possibility.
  • April 30/30 Writing Prompts: April is National Poetry Month, and many poets challenge themselves to write 30 poems in 30 days. To help with that, TruArtSpeaks shares 30 writing prompts and idea generators on our Instagram page. Even when it isn’t April, you can always visit them for ideas.
  • Are You Thirsty (Remix): A collaboration between TruArtSpeaks and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, this multidisciplinary theater production used spoken word, puppetry, and Hip Hop to explore questions related to water quality, quantity, and equity.
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