Two years ago, I travelled to Chicago with a group of young people from Newham, London, as part of the London Teenage Poetry SLAM project. We were welcomed by poets, educators and students who opened their arms to us, and over seven days of workshops, visits to local schools, performances and late-night conversations, we became part of their community. 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.
Last year the London Teenage Poetry SLAM didn’t take place, but thanks to the incredibly hard work of Peter Kahn in Chicago and Jacob Sam-La Rose, Sifundo and Nick Makoha in London and the generous donations of poets, friends and family, the Chicago trip continued.
This year, we want to make it happen again. We’re aiming to bring four young poets (aged 18-21) and two adult poets across the Atlantic for a week of writing, learning, teaching and international exchange.
Kingsford Community School and Apples and Snakes have both made generous donations to make this happen. Peter Kahn and the London Teenage Poetry SLAM fundraised through an event. Oak Park and River Forest High School, together with other Chicagoan schools, will be contributing close to two thousand dollars towards the stay and teachers will be welcoming us in their homes. The four young poets will be contributing £150-£200 each towards the overall cost of the trip.
We’ve raised enough funds for four flights (two adults and two young people) and much of the cost on the Chicago end, but we still need money for two plane tickets for two of the young poets.
These will cost £500 each, so the total amount we need to raise is £1000.
We’ll be giving a range of rewards in thanks for your contributions, but the real reward is the incredible experience you are giving to four young UK poets. We will make sure you get to see this for yourself by blogging and documenting the trip.
What will happen?
Four young people and two adult poets will learn, teach, write, perform and build community with Chicago poets, students and educators from 29 October – 6 November 2011.
The week typically includes:
• Collaborations with the University of Illinois at Chicago
• Workshops in Chicago elementary schools
• A performance and workshop at Young Chicago Authors
• Activities with the Spoken Word programme at Oak Park and River Forest High School – the largest school-based programme of its kind in the world
• Workshops with American poets (last year, there was a writing workshop with acclaimed American-based poets Roger Bonair-Agard and Krista Franklin)
• The week will culminate in the performance of a group piece written by the London poets in Chicago for an audience of 400 people