Artists, Activists, Academics, and YOU!

Why Poetry?

At-risk youths can speak for themselves and the Streetposia project will amplify their voices. “The streets” or the corners, sidewalks, and other social hang-outs in low-income urban communities have been plagued and ravaged by neglect. There is a socio-structural marginalization that many study, write, and teach about. Many live it daily, facing a social system that disadvantages, disenfranchises and in some cases destroys individuals attempting to survive and navigate a sea of hidden and explicit biases and prejudices against them. The streets to which we refer are not those of cities in the Global South or so-called “Third World” but the streets of two leading Western democracies. There are young people in Washington, DC as well as Stockholm & Malmö, Sweden who live these struggles yet write and perform poetry. These spoken word artists annually enter national and regional poetry slams to represent their town or city using solely the passion and creativity of their words and voices. What they are saying is important, and when a packed auditorium of their peers are listening intently and cheering wildly for their courage to share these true stories and express vulnerability and passion on stage, it can be truly transformational. The transformation takes place with the audience and performer, because spoken word is so interactive, the experience of a powerful poem with a heartfelt message can help us rethink our views and connect more emotionally with an issue, idea, or cause. They can give us life when performed live on stage. Poems can change minds and save lives; they can intercede a suicide and revitalize a movement. They can make us believe and make us care. Most of all, poetry cuts through the vague and fake surroundings of society, forcing us to look deeper, to engage and discover, for the sake of liberation, artistic or otherwise. By bringing scholars and students together with these artists for workshops, seminars, panels, and performances, we seek to both widen and deepen the discourse about the struggles faced by marginalized youth such as those in these capital cities. Spoken word and hip-hop artists/poets are the heart of the Streetposia, but other artists (dancer, painters/graf, musicians) will be welcomed to join in.