As I interact with children, I notice that a lot of them can’t read and don’t know how to express themselves well.
Many of the young folks know I’m a poet. They stress how they would love to attend my open-mic events, but a lot of the sets I produce and host are at nighttime and in places where you have to be 18 or older to attend.
Through the years, I’ve always held poetry workshops and sessions for the young people in our community. That’s not enough. They need a force they can claim. Earlier this year, the first Juvenile Wordsmiths program was held during Bibb County public schools’ spring break camp at the Rosa Jackson Center.
For five days of their spring break camp, we brainstormed, read, researched and wrote poetry and prose. Each day there was an average of 10 girls in the literary session. The end result was so rewarding because of the dialogue we shared and the work that these young individuals turned out. They performed their pieces in the class and for the whole camp.
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Although I was the instructor, I learned so much from those young girls. I feel responsible for the children, so I’ve taken on a task to start a literary movement that will eventually be run and programmed by them — with my guidance.
So, the next Juvenile Wordsmiths production, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, will be held for grammar school children between the ages of 7 and 12 in the historic Pleasant Hill neighborhood. We’ll gather at The Bando, 409 Monroe St., from 2-5 p.m. Dec. 28. This event center is located between Georgia Avenue and the Booker T. Washington Center.
Poetic Peace Arts will award $50 cash to the top five youth lyricists. They can read or perform up to three minutes of their original or another’s work. The piece can be in the form of poetry, song, speech or rap. Our main objective is to teach the children how to read and project.
This is a free and family-friendly event. Parents or a guardian must be present with each child. Call (478) 719-2054 to register your child for the oratorical contest.
Yolanda "Y-O" Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. She is also a Macon Arts Alliance board member and president of the Macon Cemetery Preservation Corporation. Y-O can be reached at email@example.com.