Announcing the 2017 Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate + MN Original Feature + More Big News

On May 19, in front of a standing-room only crowd at Saint Paul’s Black Dog Cafe, ten brilliant young poets shared their work at the inaugural Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate Slam, funded with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (as part of its KnightArts Challenge). The work was challenging, beautifully-crafted, and bold, and we thank all of the poets who performed, as well as the audience who showed up to support youth voice.

We are thrilled to announce Donte Collins as the inaugural Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate! Donte will now 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 about Donte here, and check out a gallery of photos from the event here.


Be Heard Featured on MN Original

Check out this beautiful feature story on Twin Cities Public Television’s MN Original series, highlighting the Be Heard process and a handful of the 2017 participants!

 


Save the Date: The 2017 Be Heard Send Off: June 25

Every year, the final six poets from the Be Heard series engage in an intense process of writing, collaborating, and rehearsing, from April until July. The Send Off is an opportunity for their supporters, peers,and fans to witness the product of their work live, before the team heads off to the Brave New Voices slam and festival to represent MN. The Send Off is also a great opportunity for our entire community to just celebrate and build with each other.

This year’s sendoff will take place at the historic Capri Theater in Minneapolis, on Saturday, June 24. Reserve your tickets now!


Black Voices Final Showcase: May 31

All semester, Washburn High School’s Black Voices class has been working with TruArtSpeaks founder, Executive Director, and teaching artist Tish Jones. Integrating Black literature, theory, and poetry into their own experiences and expression, the class presents their final performance in Washburn’s Black Box Theater on Wednesday, May 31.


More Opportunities to Connect: ReVerb, Commons Workshops, and Brave New Schools!

For anyone out there interested in finding a space to share their work, learn more about what TruArtSpeaks does, or just express themselves, a few upcoming opportunities:

  • The ReVerb Open Mic is still going strong, every Thursday night from 6-8pm at Golden Thyme Cafe in Saint Paul. Huge shout out to host Armand McCoy, and the whole ReVerb community. Swing through to share a piece (the open mic is free and all-ages), dialogue with others, or just watch!
  • TruArtSpeaks teaching artist Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre will be facilitating a monthly summer spoken word workshop at the Commons in Minneapolis. Find the dates, plus more info, here.
  • Brave New Schools is a collaboration between Youth Speaks and XQ: The Super School Institute that powers a national, open, online competition and a series of 20 town halls where young people share their poems, stories, and dreams to reimagine public high school. Youth between 13 and 24 can submit a video of original work to be considered for up to $4000 in scholarships. Deadline is June 18! More info here


Thank You for Continuing to Power Youth Voice!

TruArtSpeaks is a people-powered organization, and we are beyond grateful for all of the incredible people in our community. If you’d like to join the cypher and help us power youth voice, consider making a tax-deductible donation today!

The 2017 Be Heard Send Off

Every year, the final six poets from the Be Heard series engage in an intense process of writing, collaborating, and rehearsing, from April until July. The Send Off is an opportunity for their supporters, peers, and fans to witness the product of their work live, before the team heads off to Brave New Voices to represent MN. The show also features special guest poets, dancers, refreshments, and more!

This year’s sendoff will take place at the historic Capri Theater in Minneapolis, on Saturday, June 24. 7pm. $10 Adults, $7 Students. Reserve your tickets now!

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!

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!

It is Time to Be Heard – Register Now for the 5th Annual MN Youth Poetry Slam Series!

3b946b1d-70c1-43ba-8f7c-759bf3d9b83aRegistration for the 5th Annual Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series is Now Open!

For the past five years, TruArtSpeaks’ Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series has provided a platform for hundreds of youth poets to tell their stories and speak their truths to big, energetic audiences. As the country—and the state—head into uncertain times, it is more important than ever to hear these stories and listen to these perspectives.

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.

The full schedule is below; interested poets (who must be between 13 and 19 years old, and have a Minnesota address) can register at www.TruArtSpeaks.org. All bouts begin at 7pm and are open to the public.

  • Preliminary bouts:
    • January 14 at the Black Dog Café in Saint Paul
    • January 21 at the American Indian Community Housing Organization in Duluth
    • January 28 at the SteppingStone Theater in Saint Paul
    • February 4 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis
    • February 11 at the New Century Theater (Hennepin County Theater Trust) in Minneapolis
  • Semifinal bouts:
    • March 4 at Macalester College’s Kagin Commons Hill Ballroom in Saint Paul
    • March 11 at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis
  • Finals:
    • March 25 at the Walker Art Center’s McGuire Theater in Minneapolis

To register for the slam, click here. For additional inquiries, please contact info@TruArtSpeaks.org


Poets, prepare your pen and person for 912x912-write-to-be-heard-v2-tas-01#BeHeard17 with this series of FREE writing & performance centered workshops at the Minneapolis Central Library. This is your chance to work on concrete description, imagery, writing for social change, writing for performance, form, device and more with some of the Twin Cities’ most recognized slam poets!

No registration or sign up required. Just save the date, show up and be ready to BUST!


912x912-flip-the-script-digital-flyer-v2-tasSave the Date/Register Now: 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 co-sponsored by 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!


Interested in supporting MN youth poets img_8962during #BeHeard17 by serving as a volunteer during one of the events? Email info@truartspeaks.org with your availability and join us as we power youth voice in Minnesota!

Judges, Time Keepers, Greeters and more are needed to make this series vibrant each year and we welcome you all to the cypher! Thank you in advance for helping us power the slam series – can’t wait to hear from each of you!


#ReVerbOpenMic is back up and running this week with a writing workshop to kick things off at Golden Thyme Cafe in Saint Paul! Be sure to stop by and share your creative genius with us before the end of 2016!


Our work would not be possible without the support of generous and committed arts, social justice and youth advocates like yourself. Thank you for all you do to support this movement. To continue support our work, #BeHeard17, #FTS3, or more, click here.


Be sure to stay connected with us via social media – @truartspeaks – on all platforms; See you all soon!

TruArtSpeaks Alum Donte Collins Awarded “Most Promising Young Poet” by Academy of American Poets

Donte Collins | Outreach Associate DonteCollins@truartspeaks.org PC: Gawolo Irving

PC: Gawolo Irving

Congratulations to Donte Collins on being awarded the “Most Promising Young Poet” Award from the Academy of American Poets! Donte has been part of the TruArtSpeaks family for years– as a Be Heard team member, Youth Advisory Board member, and all-around leader in the community– and we are thrilled that his work is being recognized both here at home and nationally.

In response to Donte’s poem, “what the dead know by heart,” Judge Toi Derricotte says:

I am amazed and thrilled by the formal sophistication and the emotional maturity of this young poet. While it is brave, and necessary, to name the names and the count the wounds of the boys who have been murdered, Donte Collins goes much deeper. He captures the trembling heart of the living boy as he walks through the world in his targeted body.

Laurie Hertzel at the Star Tribune interviewed Donte, diving deeper into his process:

Ideas for poems come to him in the morning, in the shower. “That’s where I have an entry point or an idea, or a weird collection of language,” he said. “I jot them down in my phone and I might let it sit a while and come back to it and add and add. Sometimes when I’m inspired, I’m on my feet, I have my notebook, and I’m writing a line down and I say it out loud. It’s very interactive. There’s some connection with my physical body, and me speaking the words. ‘Does it sound right? Is this what I want?’”

We can’t wait to see what comes next! Check out more from Donte here.

If you’d like to help ensure that as many young people as possible have access to the kinds of programs that create space not only for youth to create, but to grow as artists and leaders, help us power youth voice here!

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