Grand Slam: Performance Poetry Engages Students



where does hope go when amazing grace becomes graceless and the only hands left the holder sweaty and quivering in fear questions that come from two little boys like Jessica many students enter global rates as early as sixth grade or younger the Bronx based nonprofit pairs working poets with local schools in 32 weekly sessions a year during English class they teach kids the art of competitive performance poetry or slam I find my tongue tumble over my teeth as I told him those questions weren't meant for me and now his eyes are silently screaming that I'm the only person that can add to him writing it gives me a reason so I guess better myself and to hold myself as a better person um behavior wise and in class the poets and classroom teachers help students develop their writing and performance skills using lots of class discussion and taking inspiration from professional Slammers like Steve Coleman I want to hear a poem about revolution about this raise my hips twisting in a rumble like a Roomba I want to follow the footsteps of Jay here the truth about the day the CIA killed the Moomba the chance to express themselves lights of fire under these kids as does the prospect of eventually competing school to school I want to feel at home I'm going to taste the phone give me your spot on the mic if you want to waste a poem I want it here up home so okay so some things that you guys have pointed out he varies his volume he buries his speed anything else you're noticing about how his poems written his rhymes they're not like bad sad math is like more like more detailed more bigger words like and it has something to do while he's talking about in South Bronx you look at the obesity rate the suicide the asthma rates these things that children keep bottled in so this is like a release for them to be able to come to school forget about everything else and just write if you have a closed bottle and it has soda in it and you shake it up when you open it all the pressures release and it's like that's how it feels when you write out what you feel she is the writer of her pain but got no vein of shame cry at night hold her pillow tight the tears of a tiger roll down her cheek into the ocean that holds the tears of a teenage girl of her squeeze of her sorrows of her joy of her pain part of the whole idea of poets in my school is that the kids want to be here so our tendance is good they score well academically and they they achieve something it builds confidence for the kids that that students that when I met them it didn't help they couldn't get their eyes from their notebook and they would stand at the furthest point away from the audience possible and they would talk as quietly as they could and now it's like you know they've thrown their notebooks down and they enjoy every second of it I see that they're writing they're using a lot more poetic devices literary devices and they're not just throwing them in there it's not about plopping them in there anymore they actually make sense and they make the writing stronger to gear up for the competitive slams students practice by performing via videoconference for their classmates and peers in the six cities global write serves across three states can you hear me now today it's a friendly practice session between the Bronx and nearby Yonkers why recognize why because real eyes realize real lives you lyrical cliche reciter tear your eyes out with a spoon maybe then you'll be recognized teachers push them to develop their constructive criticism as rigorously as they're writing and as the kids get older their poems and their critiques grow more sophisticated when you're gonna go slam you have to not only speak like it comes from the heart but you have to perform it like its body and words are one when you are slamming when you find out that own words can actually change the world and that the words that change the world come from you and it just makes you feel so important I can't ever imagine how hard it must be to hold images of your mother's passing in your pupils and I want to sing these voice a sweet melody that could tap dance across the rainbow to the better side of everything but the logic and their scars forced me to let them mourn for more information on what works in public education go to edutopia.org you

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