Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of poetry, is brought to you by online blogger Angelita Williams.
Sarah Kay and Project VOICE: Using Poetry to Find Strength and Significance
Maybe it sounds trite, but I love poetry. Often poetry is dismissed, even in academia, as simple and sentimental. It seems, for the most part, to be thought of as an outdated and, well, meaningless (as far as practicality is concerned) art form. It’s not too hard to see why people feel this way about poetry really. As the economy continues to struggle, jobs continue to waiver, and college degrees continue to become stepping stones in the pathway to our professions, why would poetry be worth doing in an academic (and, therefore, professional) setting? Maybe it’s not. But, nonetheless, I love poetry. I love writing poetry (when I can) and, more so possibly, I love hearing poetry.
Spoken word poetry has a way of communicating and connecting with people that feels inspiringly organic. It is with this feeling of connectedness that poetry can become a useful tool in education. So, before I completely lose you by talking obscurely about “poetry”, “feelings”, and “connections”, I intend to discuss integrating spoken word poetry into our primary classrooms to both update them with a modern agenda and ignite them with passion and community.
Sarah Kay is the founder and co-runner of Project VOICE, an initiative to bring spoken word poetry into young students’ lives. Sarah Kay, along with her business partner and friend Phil Kaye, created this nonprofit to help promote spoken word poetry in classrooms and workshops around the world as a means for self-expression and community building. VOICE stands for Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression, and was conceived by Sarah in 2004 as a way for people (particularly youth) to engage in the world around them by using spoken word poetry. The thought is that this form of expression will encourage students to explore their culture, society, and selves at greater depth. Sarah and Phil, while attending college, travel from classroom, to conference, to workshop with Project VOICE promoting spoken word and educating students on how to use this art form to create self-awareness, self-assurance, and community.
In her 2011 TED talk, Sarah Kay performs two of her spoken poems and discusses the way in which spoken word poetry can bring people together and empower people. At a very basic level, Project VOICE and spoken word poetry convince people that their voices and views on the world around them are significant, worthwhile, and valid. This is an important (and particularly revolutionary) realization to make as a teenager or young adult. Often, as youth struggle to understand themselves, their bodies, their community, and the society they live in, they lose sight of their own significance and necessity within these things.
Teenage angst stems from the idea that teenagers are somehow trapped by their youth, made insignificant by their lack of experience in the world. However, as Sarah Kay explains and Project VOICE strives to prove, the youth voice is essential for the running of our society. Spoken word poetry helps students “rediscover wonder” and encourages them to question the things around them. As it has done for many years now, poetry helps to inspire and empower people through words. This strength and power is something that should be utilized and celebrated in schools across the world.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with ecopolitical thriller author Randy Dutton – the three hundred and eight-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 2,000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.