Ight so boom... I hosted a poetry open mic for the public at the historic Auburn Research Library pre-COVID in honor of Toni Morrison. While hosting I offered opportunities to the crowd to come and recite some of her work. A small hand goes up in the back and a Star was born! My friend Jermail of Just Add Honey tea company came with his son and our brother Maurice from Undugu Kickbacks. (Undugu means brotherhood in Swahil.)
His son read the poem eloquently and powerful, days later Jermail hit me and said that was turning point for his relationship with his son. Stating it brought them closer, we should think about hosting open mics for kids. Great idea - THEN COVID SHUT THE WORLD DOWN.
It is a battle between quality time and technology daily for most households. It’s great as a parent when you need them to remain distracted while you work or get a brief respite. Totally different when you’re willing to engage and the separation of their device brings you face to face with an attitude.
Realizing everyone needed a break, the parents from home-schooling and entertaining, the kids from Tiktok and YouTube an idea was revisited.
Why don’t I babysit y'all kids for 2 Hours a week and actually get them involved in something creative!!!
Format was simple - take a daily challenge I was applying on social media anyway from a book called “Write the Poem” and host poetry workshops on Tuesdays, assign each kid child a separate topic, regroup Sundays for a live OPEN MIC!!!
The kids get to recite their poetry to each other and a online streaming audience. Every week had a surprise guest pouring advice and enthusiasm into the kids! We’ve had some of the worlds most influential poets offer up their time to the program making us better poets and humans in the process.
The prompts were created for the course - the poems birthed are for their LIFE. Some of the most profound writers are in junior high.
Currently revamping the course to be more inclusive and challenging - we’ve proven that the only thing stopping community is a little bit of trust and 2 hours a week!