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.

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!

TruArtSpeaks is a KnightArts Challenge Recipient, #10for10 + More!

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TRUARTSPEAKS TO LAUNCH SAINT PAUL YOUTH POET LAUREATE PROGRAM
Youth poet will model civic engagement through performances, education, and moreWith support in the form of a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (as part of its KnightArts Challenge), TruArtSpeaks is excited to announce the launch of the Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Serving youth between the ages of 16 and 24 with a current Saint Paul address, TruArtSpeaks will present a citywide spoken word competition to identify one poet to serve as the youth poet laureate of Saint Paul for one year. This young artist will receive an educational scholarship, opportunities to perform at city and community events, and mentorship from nationally-renowned artists on the TruArtSpeaks roster.

While the youth poet laureate honor can only be awarded to one poet each year, the program aims to engage many more. In keeping with the KnightArts Challenge’s mission to fund “ideas that engage and enrich St. Paul through the arts,” the Saint Paul youth poet laureate program is meant to excite, energize, and encourage young writers and performers, while also ensuring that the eventual winner can serve as a catalyst and inspiration for the next generation of youth speaking truth to power.

“Young people have so much knowledge and expertise already,” says Tish Jones, Executive Director of TruArtSpeaks (and a former “youth poet” herself). “This program will be about honoring that, while also identifying one of these dynamic young artists to really model what it means to be a leader in both an artistic sense and a broader, community-focused sense.”

“It’s clear that spoken word reigns in St. Paul,” Victoria Rogers, VP/Arts at Knight Foundation, said after TruArtSpeaks’ Tish Jones performed at the arts challenge awards event. A perfect sentiment to begin our journey of honoring poetry in Saint Paul.

Further updates and information will be posted at www.TruArtSpeaks.org.

 

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.


img_8053A Love Song, A Death Rattle, a Battle Cry | Book Release Event
Don’t miss your opportunity to experience this critical contribution to the literary community in MN. Not only is this Guante’s release event, it will also serve as an open mic for the community and a space to really direct spoken word, performance and the role of art in social transformation. SAVE THE DATE!


#ReVerbOpenMicreverb-end-of-2016-web-flier
We are making a major pivot towards the #BeHeard season and #ReVerbOpenMic is the place to be if you want to prepare yourself for the upcoming competition. Various themes, workshops and featured artists are all here to help prepare you for the next season! For those of you not competing, this is the perfect space to hone in on your craft! Stop by, we are here every Thursday from 6-8p!


img_8381Huge Thanks to the #10for10 Contributors!
We greatly appreciate the love and support from our beloved community of family friends. The donations that you made will drive the work forward in very meaningful ways! Your donation will support the development of a crew of emerging arts leaders, a community open mic space and the creation and publication of new works from area youth; thank you!


As always, be sure to follow us on social media to stay up to date with all things youth, poetry, Hip Hop and TruArtSpeaks!

Tish Jones Named BNV Leadership Fellow, #BeHeard16 + More!

FullSizeRender-6We are pleased to announce that Tish Jones, our Executive Director, has been selected t serve as the first annual Brave New Voices Leadership Fellow at Youth Speaks in San Francisco, CA. One of her responsibilities includes serving as the Festival Director of Brave New Voices 2016 in Washington D.C.

Having been a Brave New Voices participant herself, this opportunity is one that truly brings the work full circle. Tish will remain the Executive Director of TruArtSpeaks with a great portion of her fellowship geared towards her development as a leader in the arts field, and although we hate to see her go, we are extremely excited for Tish, TruArtSpeaks and the arts community.FullSizeRender-5

We will be saying our farewells at Moto-i on January 22nd
from 10-2a. DJ Los Boogie will be spinning all night, there will be good food, good company and a great atmosphere. Hope to see you there!

For more information e-mail info@truartspeaks.org


tas_f15_beheardseries_pwallace#BeHeard16 is here!!! The first bout in the series will take place this Friday at Patrick’s Cabaret in South Minneapolis. 20 young poets from Minnesota will compete for their chance to represent MN in Washington D.C. during Brave New Voices 2016.

Coached once again by the infamous Khary Jackson aka 6 is 9, we are sure to have yet another year of life changing slams, practices and community events that help shape the young writers and change makers of our community.

All slams start at 7p, so don’t be late; you wouldn’t tas_f15_beheardseries_backside_pwallacewant to miss a minute of the genius expressed on stage! See the flier for future opportunities to support youth voice and if you are you person interested in competing there are still a few preliminary bouts with sign up space. Register NOW to secure your space in the slam!

To read more about the slam and how it works, click here. For additional questions, please contact program associate, Fatima Camara. See you Friday!


IMG_4510Speaking of #BeHeard16, there are still a few lingering opportunities to work on your craft before the series ends. Our friends at the Walker Art Center are hosting a workshop with the #BeHeard16 coach, Khary Jackson, aka 6 is 9, on January 23rd from 1-3p. Click here for more information!

If you are at all curious about what these workshops may look like. Here is a visual recap of our winter writing sessions, Write to Be Heard!, with Guante, Khary Jackson and Danez Smith.


Re-Verb open mic will be going strong in 2016 with host, Re-Verb Q1 2016Desdamona, every Thursday from 6-8p at Golden Thyme Cafe in Saint Paul. We have casted the net far and wide to bring you new featured artists from the Twin Cities, both emerging and professional, along with some of your favorites from the past few years. Additionally, per our traditions, we will have themes, devices and forms to focus on each week as we all continue to grow as writers and performers!

Last but not least, don’t forget about the monthly writing workshops from 4-5:30p every first Thursday. This is one of the greatest and most consistent spaces to create and receive constructive feedback on your writing in the Twin Cities, for FREE!

Drop us a line if you have any questions. Our program associate, Isha Camara would love to hear from you!


Before we say goodbye, we want to leave you with a video from Isha Camara, member of the 2014 Be Heard team, at Page Stage Engage Volume II this past November. This is the kind of brilliance to expect during #BeHeard16. See you there!

 

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