As you might have noticed, we’ve been branching out around here over the past couple of years. The students and teachers of the ASFA-CW Universe are pretty well sold on the idea that creative writing isn’t a subject matter, per se. It’s a way of thinking, of observing, of listening, of engaging with the world. How all of that gets expressed isn’t limited to the page. Other art forms, other disciplines, can — and should — inform what and how we write.
Our 3-D Poetry Initiative and our collaborations with other ASFA specialty departments are all a part of that expanding creative umbrella. Now, this year, we’re stepping out in another direction: spoken word poetry.
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest created by the National Endowment for the Arts and administered throughout all 50 states, Washington DC, the USVI and Puerto Rico. This week, with the help of Poetry Out Loud’s John Paul Taylor, we conducted our hyperlocal version of the contest, and our winners — ASFA-CW seniors Ashley Tate and Emma Camp (with ASFA-CW senior Dimari Jordan as first alternate) — will now move on to compete at the regional contest in Tuscaloosa later this month.
We’re super-excited to see them take part at the next level, but, as John Paul shared with the students, the culture of spoken word is not as interested in competition as it is in making room for as many voices as possible. In the case of Poetry Out Loud, in particular, that means allowing poetry’s aural roots to gain purchase in the rich soil of the lives young people are living right here, right now, in the topsy-turvy 21st Century. And that’s what we’re most looking forward to as we do more with spoken word in the coming semester (and years). Stay tuned!