This month, I'm participating in the Slice of Life challenge with Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post or you can head on over there to check out other people's stories and follow along with the fun. For more information on what a Slice of Life is about, you can go here.
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Ever since I went to the NCTE convention in the fall, I've had this idea to get an open mic club going at the middle school where I work. I convinced a friend to do it with me and we made plans this week to start after spring break. In April, we'll hold after school writing, practicing and performing sessions and then also invite students in to perform during lunch periods. I'm so excited to take the next couple of weeks to get plans all set so we can launch in April.
I first got the idea for an open mic club after following Ryan Parker on Instagram. He promotes The Open Mic Movement on his website. I also found Youth Speaks and explored their website which led me to Chicago's Kuumba Lynx and 1/2 Pint Poetics.
What excites me about spoken word is that it's an opportunity for students to share their ideas, raise their voices, and feel empowered to create change. Creative expression is important. There is power in our words and power in sharing them with others.
Poetry has obviously been around for a long time but spoken word grew during the Harlem Renaissance and then speeches from the Civil Rights Movement also influenced spoken word. Gil Scott-Heron's work truly helped spoken word take off and since then poetry slams have grown across the country and around the world.
The more I explore hip hop, the more I realize how it's truly a culture and a movement. Spoken word or rap is part of hip hop culture along with DJing, graffiti art, and movement/dance. It came about in the South Bronx in the 70's as a way for Black and Latinx youth to express themselves and it has grown ever since then.
I read that hip hop emerged after the Civil Rights Movement ended...but I feel like it's an extension of and one element of how the Civil Rights Movement continues even today.
We all have voices. Our voices matter. Our ideas and words and stories matter.
This is why I'm so intent on starting this open mic club. Students need to know that we appreciate their ideas and words and stories. By making space, offering support, and celebrating their voices, we can show them that their voices matter. I'm so excited and can't wait for April!