On Thursday May 2nd, you might see a large crowd of students on Salem State University campus and wonder if they lost their way getting to a graduation rehearsal. The truth is, they will be there for the spring 2013 Student Day of Poetry. It’s a full day of innovative involvement for students to work with some of the best poetry teachers, artists and performers that Massachusetts has to offer.
According to Amanda Torres, who directs student programs for Mass Poetry and Mass LEAP, “The Student Day of Poetry brings some of the most brilliant young artistic minds of this state into one place to experience a full day of poetry that engages, affirms and asks all the right questions.” The goal of the interaction between students and poets is to develop a phenomenal relationship between the teachers, artists and performers and the Massachusetts school systems involved. The inclusion of community events, reading, slams and conferences, says Amanda is “a huge sign on how vital this art form is for young people.”
Besides Amanda, the staff of Student Day includes Alex Charalambides, Laurin Macios and Dana Nurse.
This year two featured poets include Tyehimba Jess, who, according to Amanda, “is an innovator of poetic forms, a bluesman who will occasionally whip out a harmonica that will set you straight, a man committed to excavating the culture and history of a people that have disappeared or been long forgotten.” Tyehimba’s mind is many adult minds made into one, a well-known spoken and academic artist. Amanda sees his commitment in everything he does “whether he is creating new forms or giving TED talks about syncopated sonnets or publishing books about blues musicians with bellies of lead.”
Alex Charalambides says about the second feature poet, Aaron Samuels, “He is a local youth poetry slam veteran, incredibly dedicated to furthering his craft and pushing the movement for young people to be involved with poetry. He is responsible for founding and directing the Washington University Poetry Slam. He has recently secured a publisher for his first full length book of poetry. Aaron’s work centers a great deal on the concept of identity; and his charismatic, fiercely intelligent stage presence is sure to engage our youth audience.”
What to expect of the day
This year’s program will be slightly different from last year’s. According to Alex the morning will start with a longer workshop instead of two short ones. “We feel this will allow for more quality time between students and workshop facilitators.” As was true of last year’s program the day will end with an open mic. Amanda says, “The open mic is always a blast.”
Students should be on the lookout for other treats by MassLEAP teaching artists, Salem State professors and renowned poets and youth organizers. such as:
• The Superheroes Inside Us – Princess Chan
• Immigrant superhero poetry – Jason Henry Simon Bierenbaum
• The Writing Dead – Kayla Russel
• The Poetry Film – Kevin Carey
• You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! The Art of Funny Sad – Jade Sylvan
• The Rebuttal – Sydney Peak
Last year, according to Amanda, many students were so much into the day that on the bus ride home, they continued with their own open-mics. “They were reading their new poems and cheering one another on all the way home.”
Thanks to Salem State
Over the past five years, this statewide student festival has grown enormously. Amanda is excited to “re-connect with Salem State University. “They have a phenomenal relationship with the Mass Poetry Festival and have gone out of their way to accommodate our requests and work with us to ensure a great field trip day.” By looking forward to continuing this annual event, Student Day of Poetry is creating a more vibrant atmosphere for students to pursue their interest in creative writing and poetry.
Student Day of Poetry 2013 will take place this coming Thursday, May 2nd, from 8:00am-2:30pm on Salem State University Campus, in Salem, Ma.