By Jasmine Walker, with Kim-Thao Nguyen
On March 28th the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement will be kicking off City Hall Presents, a new series of free events that showcases the full spectrum of local performing arts in the spaces of City Hall. Wednesday’s event will begin at 5 pm in the Law Library.
Just last month PYPM held their second annual Dream Big Literary Arts Festival, which featured a series of workshops, a poetry slam, and an oratorical contest. Philadelphia’s poets, spoken word artists and writers like Lyrispect, Selina Carrera, Jacob Winterstein, Ricochet, Eve Gleichman and Lindo Jones, to name a few, facilitated workshops with middle and high school students that focused on various aspects of performance, from stage presence to finding your voice, to the power of performance therapy.
An arts fest at the Franklin Institute kicked off the weekend-long event with high energy and a buzz around the city. Saturday and Sunday’s festivities were held at West Philadelphia High School where the slam contest attracted notables like Mayor Michael Nutter and Black Thought of The Roots.
Two.One.Five’s Jasmine Walker spoke with the Movement’s Director of Public Affairs, Cait Miner, about her vision for Dream Big and PYPM in 2012.
215: What are you
hoping young people will take away from this year’s Dream Big Literary Arts
CM: PYPM hopes to make literacy cool and show young people that creative writing is a productive way to express themselves. We also want to identify problems and solutions so that these teens can feel empowered by watching their peers. I want to see kids encourage their audiences to spread peace and creativity throughout the city of Philadelphia.
215: What are some of
the differences between this year and last year’s event?
CM: Last year, because it was the first time doing a Dream Big fest, we had only six school teams for the poetry slam. This year we have 15 teams from public, private and religious schools. And hopefully next year there will be even more schools. The goal is to make this a city-wide event.
215: What were some
of your memorable moments during the festival?
CM: Seeing kids from different schools support each other was great. I loved that so many teachers and parents came out to show their support. Kids understood that their voices mattered. I walked around and listened to several young people and their points of conversation were perseverance in the arts and misrepresentation in the media. I loved their positivity. This weekend was about celebrating our differences and allowing these kids to tell their stories, their way.
Since 2006, PYPM has provided a safe environment for at-risk youth to use the literary arts as a form of expression. Under the guidance of skilled and enthusiastic mentors, participating youth have dominated the stage on a local and international level, including performances at TEDxPhilly and Brave New Voices, one of the largest competitive spoken word events in the world.
Don’t miss PYPM at City Hall Presents, which will also feature last year’s Philly Youth Slam Team, who won the Brave New Voices competition in 2011. RSVP online; learn more about PYPM at http://www.phillyyouthpoets.org.