For the last nine years, the London Teenage Poetry SLAM project has provided an annual exchange program for deserving and underprivileged young poets. Chicagoan poets, educators and students opened their arms to those London poets, and over seven days of workshops, visits to local schools, performances and late-night conversations, we've built an international poetry community. The week is often seen as life changing.
One British poet described the exchange in Chicago: "That week I experienced how powerful poetry is; how it can bring all kinds of people together in the most unexpected places. I went out a new and nervous writer, and came back a poet."
This year, for the Olympic year and 10th year of this powerful collaborative experience, we want to make it happen again with a twist by having the Chicago area poets go London. We’re aiming to send four young poets ages 18-24 and one chaperone across the Atlantic for a week of writing, learning, teaching and international exchange.
Volunteers will be donating their time to make this happen, and poets and teachers will be welcoming us in their homes to keep costs to a minimum. However, to ensure the trip happens, we need to cover the cost of the airfare.
Novana Venerable is a senior at Smith College graduating in May of 2012 with a degree in Psychology and in Spanish Language and Literature. She was able to compete in the national poetry competition, Brave New Voices, her sophomore year in high school and has since been featured in the documentary Louder Than A Bomb. As a subject of the film, Novana has traveled to a wide variety of cities, including Toronto and Palm Springs, to teach writing workshops to high school children in hopes of starting new poetry clubs and slam competitions. Novana has inspired many youth to write and perform poetry and is hoping to be able to coach a Spoken Word Club of her own after college.
Kyndall Jones, currently a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School has performed in seven showcases appearing before crowds in excess of 350 people. She has been a captain of her performance group for six showcases. She has performed for her entire school of nearly 3,200 during the annual Martin Luther King assembly. This year she is a part Oak Park’s Louder Than A Bomb Slam Team (The largest youth poetry slam in the country). Kyndall has helped lead poetry workshops at The University of Illinois-Chicago in 2011 and 2012. She also helped lead a workshop at Urban Prep High School in Chicago. Kyndall Jones has participated in writing workshops lead by Terrance Hayes (National Book Awards Winner), Roger Bonair-Agard (National Poetry Slam Champion) and Marty McConnell (Def Poetry Jam).
Ms. Jessica Stovall is an English and Reading teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She has hosted London Teenage Poetry slam poets and their poet coaches for the last five years, and has attended almost every OPRF Spoken Word showcase and Louder than a Bomb competition since she moved to Chicago in 2007. She has also been a judge for the National Spoken Word competition, Brave New Voices. Although an amateur poet herself, she is inspired by the deep impact the spoken word has had on herself and her beloveds. After finishing her graduate thesis at Northwestern University early this summer, she feels that this opportunity will be a hug to her soul.
Nova says, “I am excited to be able to work in a new location. Culture has a big influence in the way people write. Style, content, sentiment and importance are framed by the way a nation functions. I am interested in writing from the view point of others and shaping a story from a perspective that may not always be heard or listened to. The opportunity to go to another country, to learn another culture and to gain a point of view that is different from the one Americans seem to find themselves stuck without change will give me a new idea of how writing can connect people from all different backgrounds and how to incorporate another culture and these foreign experiences into my own perspective in order to life a better quality life.”
Kyndall says, "In my three years as an OPRFHS Spoken Word member, my most challenging experience came as a senior. I was given the leadership of a group that consisted of all rookies and a girl with autism. I had to learn to adjust to the personal needs of someone who has a learning disability, and handling those needs while paying attention to the rest of the group. By showcase time, we had bonded as a group and we were able to put on an amazing performance. Through that experience I learned discipline and patience. Since joining Spoken Word, I’ve been exposed to a diverse group of students. This has allowed me to develop leadership skills that will assist me in my future and the different experiences of my peers have made me a stronger writer. This trip will impact me because it will expose to me a writing I’ve never experienced, and new people who will push my leadership ability. I am very excited to grow even more as a writer and as a leader. Going to London will give me the chance to understand new cultures and share my own, broadening my connections through poetry. What I look forward to most from this trip is fostering new relationships in London that will help me develop as a writer and leader. I have never left the United States and look forward to gaining a broader perspective about the world."
What We Need & What You Get
Help us fly! Any money made beyond the $6,000 will go towards food and transportation in London. Your donation means a lot to us, and we will personally thank you for helping us on this dream experience.
Other Ways You Can Help
It's not just about the funding, it's also about spreading the word. Let your friends know! Tell the world you support us by posting on Facebook, e-mailing, and telling the person sitting next to you on the bus. We appreciate your support!
In addition, e-mail us at 2012LondonExchange@gmail.com if you have any questions, comments, or ideas.
Thank you so much for getting involved!
Team on This Campaign: