Tuesday, January 31, 2012

News from InsideOut Literary Arts Project frm insideoutdetroit.org

Oh, the Places IO Goes

Please help us commend Detroit Public TV for supporting the rise of poetry in major way this week.  

The station will air two separate projects that illustrate our belief that poetry changes lives.  The first project airs tonight at 10 p.m. during Vital Signs. The episode features our own Dr. Suzanne Scarfone's work as a poetry and writing mentor to a teenage girl battling depression.  Vital Signs focuses on first person stories to humanize health struggles in Southeastern Michigan.  

On Friday, February 3rd, WTVS airs "A Poet in Every Classroom," produced as an Undergraduate Research Project through Wayne State's Honors College by WSU instructor Joel Silvers and Department of Film Studies student Erik Daniel.  The video tells the story of IO Founder and Executive Director Terry Blackhawk's personal dream of dispatching a poet in every classroom, so that "experiencing the power of the written word will become an essential part of every child's education.''  

In "Vital Signs: The Temperature," Dr. Scarfone works with Ranequa Kelley-Boyd, a self-described "weird kid,'' who preferred, as a young child, to "stay indoors playing with my dolls and writing all day.'' When her mother noticed the tone of writing changing, she began to seek outside support.  It was poetry that spoke most deeply to the teen.  "Most people, they either don't like poetry or it's just a hobby for them or it's just something they do,'' Ranequa says. "But I truly feel like if I did not write during those most pivotal years, from when I was nine to now,'' she says in one scene, her words trailing off, " ..I used poetry to get through. All of my teenage years, I've used poetry to get through.''

Ranequa's story, says Dr. Scarfone, proves writing's validity as a healing practice. "Using the arts as a form of therapy is becoming more and more an established practice. I don't care if you're mad, you're angry whatever. You can write it down, so you'll have those thing and then you can go back in retrospect and understand them.''

A portion of the episode can also be viewed online here. 

"Suzanne's sensitive work with her student in Vital Signs is a prime example of the healing power of poetry,'' adds IO Founder & Executive Director, Dr. Terry Blackhawk. " We have seen this in schools where teachers remark on the improved confidence of their young poets to coffee shops and concert halls where our teen performers confront injustices of all kinds and send their brave words out to audiences of thousands.''

In the coming months, look for IO to continue building on work such Dr. Scarfone's, during a series of events that formally embrace "Poetry as Resilience.''

"Our mission of having students 'think broadly, create bravely' is gaining ever wider wings,'' says Terry. 

Be sure to visit or join our Facebook page to share your thoughts on the IO's big TV debut this week.

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Grand Slam For Our Slam Team 

IO's Citywide Poets Joseph Verge, Ariana Washington, Grover Easterling, and Ajanae Dawkins, along with their coaches Citywide Agents Justin Rogers and Andrew Barnhill were literally crowned the bomb this weekend, as they captured first prize in their first appearance during Michigan's Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) Youth Poetry Festival in Ann Arbor. 

The CWP team performed poems about their faith, their families, civil rights struggles of the past and present day, and even a hilarious group piece about the process of working together and the real meaning of the poetry slam -which extends far beyond the competition. Verge, Washington, Barnhill and Rogers were members of the 2011 Detroit Youth Poetry Slam Team that placed fourth out of 50 teams at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in San Francisco.

Their tradition of mesmerizing verse continued in Ann Arbor during what will now become an annual Michigan event, modeled after the Chicago-based festival of the same name, more than a decade old. This weekend's LTAB brought together teams from across Southeast Michigan to participate in writing workshops, community building, and a poetry slam competition at the Neutral Zone teen center.

"This was the real victory of the day, bringing together Michigan youth to share their stories across the dividing lines of race, class, and geography,'' said Isaac Miller, IO Writer-in-Residence and LTAB organizer.  The youth poetry festival draws it name from the documentary, Louder Than A Bomb, which has been touring film festivals across the country and was recently featured on Oprah's OWN Network. 

During the Ann Arbor festival, the CWP team won their semi-finals bout, and advanced to the finals, where they were crowned the first ever Michigan LTAB champions. 

"This promises to be the start of an annual tradition. As this weekend showed, Citywide Poets are front and center in building and leading this movement," remarked Miller.

InsideOut Literary Arts | 5143 Cass Ave., Room 225 | WSU - State Hall | Detroit | MI | 48202

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