Young, aspiring poets looking to share their words with others can take advantage of a local mentorship opportunity.
The Peterborough Poetry Slam, the Aspire Mentorship Program and the Precarious Festival will pair four professional spoken word artists with eight aspiring youth writers through the project called Speak, Scribe, Share.
Jon Hedderwick, Peterborough Poetry Slam’s artistic director, discusses the opportunity with Electric City Magazine:
What’s the mentorship program all about?
In this mentorship opportunity, organized by (Jon) in partnership with the Peterborough Poetry Slam, the Aspire Mentorship Program and the Precarious Festival, four professional spoken word artists, (Jon), Elizabeth Jenkins, Sarah Lewis and Ziysah von Bieberstein, will be paired with eight aspiring youth writers, aged 17-29.
Our stories shape who we are and also have the capacity, when told with confidence, compassion, honesty and integrity to shape the world around us.
The project will open with teachings from Elder Shirley Williams. The groups will then participate in workshops, meet-ups and two master classes.
The master classes will be taught by dub poet, educator and spoken word artist, Lillian Allen, and genre-mashing performance artist and educator, Wes Ryan. The group will work in collaboration with each other to explore the art of spoken word poetry and create original pieces rooted in personal narratives as they prepare for a performance on Dec. 11 at The Theatre on King.
What is your hope for the program?
I’ve worked informally as a mentor in the Peterborough spoken word community for a long time. What I love about my art form is poetry’s capacity to help people find the confidence they need to be able to stand proudly in their own stories, to be vulnerable and to draw strength from the experience of connecting with others through narrative.
In this way, the art form can be both healing and empowering. With that said, this is a craft that we often practice in relative isolation and too often without guidance or support.
I’m interested in the ways that good mentoring relationships can help a person develop their craft, but also in the ways that intergenerational knowledge exchange can strengthen the bonds of community and create deeper, more profound connections between artists as they explore the world around them.
What’s the best thing that could happen?
The best thing that can happen is for a participant to find the confidence to be able to use their own voice to tell whatever stories are in them that are most urgently in need of telling.
Our stories shape who we are and also have the capacity, when told with confidence, compassion, honesty and integrity to shape the world around us. I’m also hoping that the mentorship relationships formed in this program will continue in some way into the future — that, of course, is up to the mentors and participants.
If you have submissions already, what’s striking you about them most so far?
What is interesting to me about the submissions we’ve already received is the diversity of voices.
We have people from so many different walks of life who have been journaling privately for years and are looking eagerly for ways to take their inner-most thoughts and concerns and share them with others.
I think that’s pretty rad. Honestly, after being in this for so long, that’s the part that I get most excited about.”
This is the third and final article in a series of stories about poetry and members of the Peterborough Poetry Slam.
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