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!

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.

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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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 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!

Meet the 2016-2017 Youth Advisory Board Members!

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These are the young people powering the movement into the future as the  2016-2107 Youth Advisory Board of TruArtSpeaks and we couldn’t be more thrilled to work with such a dedicated group of individuals! Thank you to all YAB applicants and PLEASE, take some time to learn more about these masterful writers and readers below!


img_3921Fatima Camara is a 20 year old spoken word artist from Minneapolis, MN. She has been the Be Heard Program Associate for the Be Heard 2015 and 2016 team. And was a competing poet the two previous years. She at times host the Re-Verb Open mic at the Golden Thyme cafe, which was named “Best Open Mic” by CITYPAGES in 2015.

Fatima is a Southwest High School graduate, and that is where she began taking her spoken word seriously. Having been encouraged by her AVID teacher, Fatima has competed in slams and frequented many twin cities open mics. She has been fortunate enough to share stages with poets like Danez Smith, Guante, Sierra DeMulder, and more.

Currently a student at Minneapolis Community and Technical college, Fatima hopes to publish her first book in the next 3 years, and finish school to become an educator in the Minneapolis Public Schools District.

Samoa the Poet experienced his first open img_5589mic at Re-Verb Open Mic one winter Thursday. As a poet and emcee he aims to share his influence with others through art and the knowledge he has gained through his experience. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Samoa is excited for the opportunity to continue giving back to the Twin Cities community with TruArtSpeaks.


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Duncan Slagle is a performer and poet living in Minneapolis. He was a member of both the 2015 & 2016 Be Heard MN Poetry Slam Team that represented the state of Minnesota at Brave New Voices and performed during the 2016 Grand Slam Finals at the Kennedy Center. In 2015, he was announced as a winner in the YoungArts Foundation’s inaugural Spoken Word Poetry Writing & Performance category.

#10for10 Continues: A Powerful TruArtSpeaks Alumnus Testimony

My Storylucien10for10

Before I met the people associated with TruArtSpeaks and the people at BNV, I was just another kid writing poems in my notebook in my room. My journey with TruArtSpeaks began in 2013 when I first entered the Be Heard MN youth poetry slam competition. I was only 15 at the time, and couldn’t believe it when I was selected as one of the six youth poets to represent Minnesota at the international Brave New Voices (BNV) youth poetry slam and festival.

As the youngest member on the team, I took the opportunity to connect with other phenomenal artists, take in the wisdom given by mentors in the community, and work to perfect my craft. One of the poems I had written during the 2013­2014 slam season was actually picked up by Jet Magazine, as well as praised by Janis Lane­Ewart and aired on KFAI. TruArtSpeaks, including staff and teaching artists like Tish Jones, Keno Evol, Guante, Khary Jackson, and Desdamona, plus the teammates with whom I still have close relationships, are the people who taught me the power in my words. They taught me what it was to be a poet off the page. They taught me what it meant to truly embody my feelings and emotions and portray those things on stage.

One of the hardest moments in my life was the following season when I was told there was a polyp growing on my vocal chord. At that point in my life, it was clear that I was going to need vocal surgery, and doctors weren’t sure if I would be able to compete for BNV 2015. Luckily for me, I had an unbelievable support system from my TruArtSpeaks family, my parents, my girlfriend, and my best friends from the previous year. Amazingly, I came out of surgery and recovered within a few weeks in time to compete for the 2015 preliminaries. If anything, I came back stronger, wiser, and in at a much higher comfort level than I had been at before. I went on to make the team for the second year in a row, compete in Philadelphia, and help my team make semifinals.

Spoken word has and always will be a vent for me, but more importantly it has opened the doors to various new opportunities, including my now thriving Hip­Hop career. The skill set I have been able to bring to Hip Hop is rooted in the things I took from TruArtSpeaks and spoken word. One of the best career decisions I made (with help from Tish and my parents) was to apply to the University of Wisconsin Madison’s “First Wave” program. First Wave is one of the only programs in the world that offers full tuition scholarships to Hip­Hop students and I know it’s where I need to be. With even more love and support from my TruArtSpeaks family, and parents, and friends, I have been accepted into the First Wave Program, where I plan to remain until 2019. Words cannot explain the love, the gratitude, or the respect I have for Tish Jones and all the other mentors in my life that have helped me get to where I am today. Part of who I am will always be because of the unforgettable journey I had and will continue to have with TruArtSpeaks.

Lucien Parker

#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!

2nd Annual Flip the Script! Youth Writing & Performance Conference


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Its 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!


Here are a few pictures from last year’s event!

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