2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational - Workshop Block 2

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Core Competencies: Communications, Intercultural Proficiency, Student Learning
April 6 – April 9, 2016
University of Texas–Austin, Austin

Workshop Block 2

Friday, April 8, 3:15–4:30 p.m.

Spoken Word & Social Change
Blythe Baird, Hamline University
Location: 3.116, Student Activities Center

How can we use spoken word as a tool to elicit social change? How can we use our personal experiences to impact people on a larger scale? What tactics can be utilized in order to reach people and potentially change their beliefs? In this workshop, we will write, share, and explore the ways performance poetry can be culturally influential. We will also observe examples of poems that successfully integrate activism within their work. Please bring the materials you need to write with.

Learning Objectives: Participants will be exposed to various structures and writing methods in spoken word proven to achieve social change that they can use in their own work. Examples of poems that achieve social change will be shared. Participants will learn how to use their personal experience as a tool, how slam poetry can be a form of activism, and how to successfully promote their work online.

Our Poetic World: Writing Poems for Social Justice
Lauren Bagwell and Karon Lecompte, Baylor University
Location: 2.120, Student Activities Center 

The workshop will begin with a three-minute spoken word performance on the current state of the American school system. The presentation will then transition into a five-minute introduction on the current state of the social studies classroom, specifically the one-sided narratives that exist in history textbooks. Poets will then be given an excerpt from an eighth grade history textbook and be asked to add to or rewrite the narrative they receive. Poets will be introduced to writing prompts as well as techniques that will guide them in writing their own historical truth. The final writing exercise will consist of poets selecting a specific historical event or thematic idea that they feel is inaccurately portrayed. Their goal is to write a poem that rights its wrongs. Finally, poets will be given the opportunity to contribute their poems to the video database Our Poetic World, a teaching tool aimed at bringing the untold stories back into the social studies classroom.

Learning Objectives: Poets will receive a brief introduction to the current state of the social studies classroom and learn why spoken word has the potential to save it. Poets will engage in writing exercises and techniques that will guide them through how to write poems in response to the bias that exists within our history textbooks. Poets will be led through prompts that will aid them in writing poems that portray their own historical/cultural truths. Poets will be given the opportunity to submit their poems to Our Poetic World, a teaching tool aimed at bringing the untold stories back into the history classroom.

Who Were the First Slam Poets?
Sean Mulroy, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Location: 2.304 Black Box Theatre, Student Activities Center

This workshop will begin with an exercise where attendees will be asked to discuss what distinguishes slam poetry from other kinds of poetry, and from art forms such as experimental theater or modern hip hop.

After the list is made, there will then be a brief lecture, discussing the history of oratory competitions (such as those in the Ancient Greek Olympics), the notion of oral tradition, and we will discover the ways in which slam is not so much a new movement as it is a revival of old ideas. Attendees will be asked, "Why is this coming back now?"

Following the lecture, volunteers will be read poems by poets such as Rimbaud or Blake, selected specifically for their prescient content and difficult language. The workshop will, as a group, rewrite the poem or poems in their own language. Time permitting, there will also be a chance to work on a similar project individually, with the possibility of sharing our results.

Learning Objectives: Attendees who are unfamiliar with the history of slam or "academic" poetry will be given new information that will place the art of Poetry Slam, so often denigrated in popular culture, within a line of history that will empower those writing for slam themselves to think about their work in a literary context. They will have an opportunity to discuss critically the role of slam in relation to the rest of the canon; furthermore, they'll be asked to engage critically with difficult texts.

Updated April 7, 2016