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Tag: Kate Wilson

Slam! (Poetry that has street cred)

My background in education has included teaching English and heading up the English faculty across a dual-campus school. Perhaps this helps explain my enthusiasm for encouraging young people to twirl words – to invent, create and use language to explore their world. Lately, I have been particularly inspired by slam poetry and have found many young women I work with inspired by it too.

poetry_slam_10_little_logoWhat is a “poetry slam”?

poetry slam is a competition at which poets perform original work (or sometimes the work of other poets). Members of the audience judge these performances — not only on the content but on the poets’ delivery and passion as well.

Slam poetry is often political or offers commentary on social issues. I find slam poetry the most powerful when it explores gender injustices and presents as a spontaneous outpouring of raw emotion.

Slam is often more accessible for young people than traditional styles of poetry, as the vocal delivery is often like that found in hip-hop music, which many already enjoy.

In a 2005 interview cited on Wikipedia, one of slam poetry’s best-known exponents, Saul Williams, said:

[H]ip-hop filled a tremendous void for me and my friends growing up… The only thing that prevented all the young boys in the black community from turning into Michael Jackson, from all of us bleaching our skin, from all of us losing it, just losing it, was hip-hop. That was the only counter-existence in the mainstream media. That was essential, and in that same way I think poetry fills a very huge void today [among] youth. And I guess I count myself among the youth.

The following slam poems are a few of my favourites that explore feminist issues. I urge you to not only share them with the young people in your life but to use them as inspiration and encouragement to get them slamming! Organise a slam competition at your local school, film the entries, email me and I will share some here.

You might also like to encourage students to enter the Australian Poetry Slam competition, which is being held right now. Information regarding heats may be accessed at the organisers’ new site:

Long-term Enlighten supporter Kate Wilson slams “Sisterhood”:

Katie Makkai, a veteran poetry slammer, defining the word “pretty”: please note, Katie does use offensive language at one point.

I also have to share the following slam by Taylor Mali, “What do teachers make?” One for all my fellow educators who truly understand the value of the work we do.

Show and Tell

It’s been an exciting and busy week. Today I was in a photo shoot for The Weekend Australian. I feel incredibly honoured that they have chosen to include me in “The Next 100” leadership feature:

As a national newspaper with a commitment to Australian success we know that identifying and nurturing good leaders is an essential aspect of nation building…

Over the next three months we will name 100 of Australia’s young and emerging leaders — those who are set to make a substantial contribution to the nation over coming years.

The Next 100 series, which runs in The Weekend Australian Magazine, each week from April 4-5, identifies people who are setting agendas and inspiring others through their work and ideas.

The Australians on our list come from a range of backgrounds and exhibit different talents. But they share a high level of professional skill and offer innovative approaches to national challenges. They share too those essential qualities of leadership — an ability to come up with fresh directions and solutions, to articulate those changes and to make them happen.

Over 10 weeks we are profiling people representing 10 key areas of national life — Society, Sport, Wealth, Science, Culture, Earth, Learning, Health, Thinking and Innovation…

I will be profiled as a Leader in Learning. It’s humbling to be included in such a talented group of nominees, and inspiring to read about the work they are doing. If you haven’t already, it’s worthwhile to take the time to read about their backgrounds: Nominees – The Next 100.

I have also just launched my own website to profile my seminars for parents and teachers and my upcoming book: Love to hear your feedback.

And finally, I was really touched when young Western Australian poet Kate Wilson sent me the link to a YouTube clip of her performing a poem she wrote in Enlighten’s honour. Isn’t she terrific?

Sisterhood – performance poem by Kate Wilson

The poem featured in this YouTube clip is written and performed by Kate Wilson.

Have your girls produced poems, songs or art that explores women’s issues? If so, I’d love to see these.

P.S As promised – big shout out to the hundreds of shiny teen girls I have worked with this past fortnight. I have been to Canberra, New Zealand, Wagga Wagga, Strathfield and Perth! A few of my fave snaps below.

LOVE, LIGHT AND LAUGHTER to all my Sisters!

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