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.

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!

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!

#BeHeard16, Flip the Script! + More!

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photo by Uche Iroegbu

#BeHeard16 preliminaries have BLOWN us away! Since January 15th we have been presented with courageous stories and outstanding performances from Minnesota youth interested in joining the 2016 Be Heard team traveling to Brave New Voices in Washington D.C. this summer! Huge thanks to the broader Minnesota community for coming out to support these young poets; their voices merit audience, support and platform.

This Friday evening at Roosevelt High School will be the conclusion of the #BeHeard16 preliminary rounds! There are still a few spaces open for participating poets, if you haven’t registered yet or are interested in registering, click here!


truartspeaks_flipthescript_2016Its that time again! The 2nd annual Flip the Script! Youth Writing & Performance Conference is back, bigger and better! A one day, spoken word writing & performance-intensive conference presented by TruArtSpeaks and The Loft Literary Center, Flip theScript! offers young people between the ages of 13-19 an opportunity to engage with professional spoken word artists via workshops, performances and panel discussions. Featuring two time National Poetry Slam Champion Khary Jackson (aka 6 is 9), Hip Hop phenom Desdamona, and more!

Come to be challenged, to grow, to be in community, and to bust! Register here!


Re-Verb Open Mic is STILL oneRe-Verb Q1 2016 of the best places in the Twin Cities to bust, build and break bread, so stop by. We are in full effect every Thursday from 6-8p and we would love to hear your stories. Hosted by Desdamona, Re-Verb is a dialogical space designed to provide each artist with constructive feedback for their artistic development. Oh! And don’t forget about the FREE writing workshop that happens every First Thursday from 4-5:30p. Always a different theme or guest, always a good time. See you there!


Here is a little video to give you some insight into all of the fuss around #BeHeard16 – this is powerful space. Get here.


 

Remember to check us out on YouTubeTwitterInstagram and Tumblr for regular access to the fun stuff!


For more information, please contact info@truartspeaks.org and to support the work please click here!

Get Connected: Power Youth Voice with TruArtSpeaks

May Banner

We’re grateful for the chance to build with so many people at In the Heart of the Beast‘s annual May Day Festival in Powderhorn Park. The theme this year was Black Lives Matter, and as people all over the country take to the streets, we are reminded of the role that art– and especially spoken-word– can play in movement-building. At TruArtSpeaks, we believe in the power of communities to organize, and for artists to be part of that work– as signal-boosters, as re-framers, as the people’s media and beyond– so we move into May with a sense of urgency.


YesYesYes flyerUpcoming Events

  • #YesYesYes: Wednesday, May 20 at Intermedia Arts: TruArtSpeaks is proud to co-sponsor #YesYesYes; featuring Guante, Chava Gabrielle, and many other local artists, this will be an evening of spoken-word about consent and healthy sexuality. 7pm. $5 donation appreciated.
  • The weekly ReVerb open mic: all through the summer and beyond, we will continue to host our weekly, all-ages open mic. Every Thursday at 6pm at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul.
  • The Sendoff: stay tuned for details on our annual sendoff show.

BH 2015 Team w ArmandBe Heard Team Update: Welcome Armand McCoy

In April, the make-up of the 2015 Be Heard MN youth poetry slam team changed. The brilliant and bold Isha Camara was unable to move forward with the 2015 team which created a platform for a new and exciting young voice:  Armand McCoy, the first alternate in line to join the Be Heard team. Welcome Armand! We will be showcasing every member of the team here over the next few months.

The team has also started practicing; under the guidance of coach and poetry slam champion Khary Jackson, they are writing, revising, and collaborating with each other, all in preparation for the trip to Atlanta this July. Stay tuned for updates on the big sendoff show, as well as a performance at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market, and more.


#7UpForSocialChange

There’s still time to put #7UpForSocialChdonor flyer 2ange and support the work that TruArtSpeaks does. From youth leadership development, to creating spaces for expression and community-building, to much more– you can help us keep growing for just $7. Thanks to everyone who has already gotten down with the campaign! Click here to add your name to our supporters.

 

 


Hope to see you at an event, at the open mic, or in the community. In the meantime, be sure to get at us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr!

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