The power of young voices never ceases to amaze me. There is just something so magical about witnessing authentic self-expression, about seeing a young poet step into their truth. I simply get moved.
That’s exactly what happened to me when I watched this video featuring three of our Citywide Poets students – Imani, Aaron and Sam – performing an original poem for the Pistons Season Opener.
Yes, you read that right – our young poets were asked to open the season for the Detroit Pistons! Their words remind us that we have much to celebrate, that hometown pride unites us, and that “we all dance to the beat of Detroit.”
While poetry and sports can often feel like they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, I witnessed their fusion firsthand when I visited Marcus Garvey Academy last year. A young man stood up and introduced himself as “a football player and a poet.” Then another said the same thing. Poetry and imagination live inside every student, not just the artistic students or free-spirits. Every young person benefits from the freedom of self-expression and the tools to best articulate their vision of themselves and their world.
Our programs offer so many tangible gains to students – from improved classroom climate to higher grades. Hear from Writer-in-Residence Benjamin Turner on what he witnessed with one student, Jeremiah:
One of my students, Jeremiah, was given an opportunity to exercise some of the greatness in himself, while also challenging his own complacency through the program. It showed him, a very bright and capable student, that basketball wasn’t the only thing awaiting him. Jeremiah, even when he wanted to talk, or play, or eat, or make jokes, was always trying to find ways to one up his prior successes from previous sessions. In this way, he was infectious for other students as it related to having a will to write, but also it showed that he caught that “bug.” He wanted to write more than he had before because HE recognized there was value in his writing. Even if it was only that he was celebrated by his classmates and teacher, Jeremiah got the transfer of value; that is, it was no longer just me treating Jeremiah’s work as valuable. Through the program, he saw the worth of his own writing.
It is not uncommon to hear this kind of report from our Writers-in-Residence; you can browse their stories here.
Here’s to Jeremiah, the boys from Garvey, and our Citywide Poets, for constantly reminding us that poetry is everywhere.