Tag Archives: Spoken word

Professor Gadsden’s African American Storytellers Fest Brings History and Culture to the City of Harrisburg

By Norman Geary

On Sunday, October 16, the Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers’ Wordshop had an African American Storytellers Festival at the State Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  This event was co-sponsored by Jump Street, Life Esteem Inc., Community Art Publishers, PA Council of the Arts, and Imani African Christian Church.

Nathaniel Gadsden's Writers Wordshop is the longest running poetry venue in Harrisburg. It meets on Fridays at 7 at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop is the longest running poetry venue in Harrisburg. It meets on Fridays at 7 at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

Dr. Nathaniel Gadsden, a professor of African American History at Central Penn College and the founder of the Writer’s Wordshop, hosted the event which featured many prominent artists and speakers including:  professional storyteller Denise Valentine, actress and author Lynn Blackston, professor and writer Ron Kipling, and performance poets Terri A. Durden and Carla Christopher.

The main focus of Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop is to provide a platform for poets and spoken word artists to perform and to get published.   The festival is just one of the many cultural family events held by Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers’ Wordshop at the State Museum throughout the year.  The Writers’ Wordshop gets creative individuals involved by giving them exposure while educating the audience about African American history, which includes a number of social topics affecting the African American culture as a whole.

The Wordshop helps performers, writers and poets find their voice and gain confidence to promote publication of their works.  Students of the Wordshop have become known for their works and are often looked upon and asked to perform and participate in events throughout the region.

Terri A. Durden, Founder/CEO of Community-4-Change, Inc. says, “I’ve been writing since 8th grade.  I started writing little love letters to my boyfriend…  I would take songs and blend them together and make a poem until I learned to create my own poetry. “  Now Terri is an award winning poet with a book published, I Will Remember You and one coming out –  Words, Sounds, Echoing.

The Nathaniel Gadsden’s Writers Wordshop meets at The Midtown Scholar Book Store, 3rd & Verbeke Street, Harrisburg, PA 1st , 2nd and 4th Fridays from 7-9 p.m.  Each meeting features a performer and an open reading. They are free to the public.  Everyone is welcome to join the Writers Wordshop.

For more information contact: Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Gadsden at nathanielgadsden@centralpenn.edu or 717-608-2312.


Norman Geary is a Corporate Communications major at Central Penn College, a member of the Media Club, and a regular contributor to The Knightly News.

 

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A Celebration of Sisterhood: Knight Writers host Poetry-filled Jewelry Party to End Human Trafficking

March is Women’s History Month, and so the Knight Writers feel there is no better time to focus on an issue that has been affecting women for generations–violence against women and its ugly cousin, human trafficking. human trafficking
 
On Thursday, March 3rd from 4:00 – 6:00 PM in room 203 of the ATEC building, we will be hosting “Literary Libation, a fundraiser for Women at Risk International (W.A.R.).”  This event is free and open to the public.
Participants can share their own poetry or songs and enjoy the powerful spoken word performance of featured poet, Kali Meister of Chatanooga, TN.
 
In addition, W.A.R. International will be selling a beautiful array of handmade jewelry and other items to fund efforts to save women trapped in the clutches of modern-day slavery. Help Us end these atrocious crimes against humanity! Join the Knight Writers on Thursday, March 3rd at 4pm in ATEC 203.
 
For more information please visit http://warinternational.org/news-media/video-gallery/ .

Knight Writers present: Literary Libation; A fundraiser to help end human trafficking!

Knight Writers present: Literary Libation; A fundraiser to help end human trafficking!


 

 

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Slam Poets: Tell Us How To Throw Down!

Maria James-Thiaw asked the local slam community advice on how to throw down at a slam contest.  This is what they told us!


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“Practice. Some practice is better than none.”–Marilyn Kallet

“Winning the slam will never help you win yourself. Win who you are, your purpose.That will always remain in your hands.  So always carry your purpose to the stage with you. ” –Slangston Hughes


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“Romance the mic and believe that no one else can do that better than you! If you focus on your own performance, there will be no room for comparing yourself to anyone else (which is a BIG wagging, shake-a-finger NO NO!).” –Quill Reed

“…Just like entering the hundred yard dash or a boxing match, you go in to win, connect and show them what you’re really made of figuratively.”–Femi Drifish


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“Don’t be self-conscious about your performance — don’t even think about it as a performance, but as you speaking your heart to friends. Everyone supports one another in these. Go!”–Michael Lear-Olimpi

“Slam because you have a story to tell. A poem you have to share. An experience someone else might need to hear on any given Tuesday.” —Dawn Saylor


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…and of course, don’t forget to sign up for the 3rd Annual Poetry Slam.  Get the details here.

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Get Ready to SLAM!

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Come on out to the 3rd Annual Poetry Slam brought to you by the Central Pen Literary E-zine and Professor Maria Thiaw’s Contemporary American Writer’s of Color class to hear some good words or give some- or both! A poetry slam is a bit of a competition, but a lot of love. Poets are judged by their writing style and their performance ability.

Central Penn alumna Shonyah Hawkins will MC the event and poets will be judged by the esteemed spoken word artist Ladi Glori along with other faculty and students.

The slam will be held in the Capital Blue Cross Theatre on the Summerdale campus Thursday, September 3rd at 7:00 pm. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE!

If you’re interested in competing send your name, your contact information, and the name of your poem to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu. Be sure to hurry, spots are limited! Poets will have 3 minutes to speak. All you need to bring is yourself and your poem.  And as if sharing your poem isn’t enough, $100 goes to first place, $50 goes to second place, and $25 goes to third place.

 

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$100.00 to go to Poetry Slam Champion – Sign-Up Today!

The 3rd Annual Poetry Slam will be held on Thursday, September 3rd in the Capital BlueCross Theatre on Central Penn College’s Summerdale campus. This event will be hosted by the Central Pen Literary E-zine and Professor Maria Thiaw’s Contemporary American Writer’s Of Color class. The first place slam-master will walk away with a cool $100.00. There are second and third place prizes as well.

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The Slam will be judged by students, faculty and Baltimore spoken word powerhouse, Ladi Glori. Central Penn alumna, Shonyah Hawkins will M.C. the free event.  Performers must be students or alumni of Central Penn College and can sign up by emailing thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu no later than August 15. Spots are limited, so don’t delay.

What’s a Poetry Slam?

A poetry slam is a contest in which poets are judged by both their writing style and performance ability. Poets don’t merely ‘read’ their original work, but they deliver it with dramatic flair. Since no one sees the work on paper, slam poets don’t have to worry about being grammatically correct or holding to a traditional form. Poetry slams are a national pastime that has brought the art of poetry off the page and out of the classroom for regular people to enjoy.

Are there rules?

Although the rules of grammar and form are relaxed in a slam, wordsmiths must remember these tips for success:

No props but the poem and the mic!

The first rule of a poetry slam is that there are no props allowed. You can’t talk to an empty chair, hold a dummy, or throw a paper airplane. It is just you, the word and the mic.   For this particular slam you are allowed to have your poem on paper, however most slam champions memorize their pieces and perform them with power.

No disclaimers!

Do not explain your inspiration, apologize, or give a soliloquy about the piece you are about to perform. You only have 3 minutes and the timer starts when you open your mouth.

Respect the Mic!

Although a vast array of once taboo subjects are welcomed in poetry slams, hatred, misogyny and homophobia are not. Please stay away from racial slurs, anti-gay rhetoric or religion bashing. This is a multicultural event. Let’s celebrate the art of the spoken word together!

How Can I Be Down?

So you want to watch the slam? Show up to the Capital BlueCross Theatre in the Underground on the Summerdale campus on Thursday, September 3 at 7 pm to support your friends. Give them lots of love, snaps and claps when they’re on stage.

Oh, you want to walk away with $100.00 and some Central Penn swag? Sign up to perform by sending an email to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu by August 15. Send us your name, contact information and the name of your poem.

Got Any Tips?

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Baltimore-based Poet and CPC alumni to join Knight Writers for Spoken Word Extravaganza

Amani_ZOn Thursday, June 4th at 7:00 PM in the Capital Blue Cross Theatre, The Knight Writers, Central Penn College’s creative writing club, will take you on an extraordinary journey  entitled “Take a Stand” featuring the award winning Baltimore-based spoken word artist, Ladi Glori. This event is free and open to the public, however, donations are encouraged.

Too often, society overlooks creative expression, but Central Penn embraces artistic freedom.  In celebration, the Knight Writers are proud to present a smorgasbord of poets including founding Knight Writers president, Greg Jones, and alumni members Jordan Parish, and Ashley McGowan. Current Knight Writers will also recite their original performance poems.  Knight Writers founder and advisor, Professor Maria Thiaw, a published author and seasoned performance poet, will emcee the event.   LadiGlori

Ladi Glori is an emcee, actress, author, and activist that has been performing on stage since 2009. In 2011, she released a hip-hop/spoken word CD called “Mute the Background.” She also released her book, Ms. Read the Plight of a Poet, last August. These products will be available for purchase at “Take A Stand,” and Ladi Glori will be available to autograph them.

If you wish to join this thriving creative club in its celebration of the arts, then TAKE A STAND with the Knight Writers and Ladi Glori on Thursday, June 4th at 7 PM in the Capital Blue Cross Theatre, located in the Underground on Central Penn College’s Summerdale campus. For more information, contact Professor Maria Thiaw at mariathiaw@centralpenn.edu or 717-728-2524.Knight Writers

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Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s Poem on Climate Change Shows the Power of Poetry

kathy_jetnil-kijinerKathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a 26-year-old poet, writer, artist, and journalist from the Marshall Islands, recited her poem about climate change and its effects to a delegation of world leaders at the United Nations who had gathered for the Climate Leaders Summit earlier this week on September 23.   Jetnil-Kijiner had been chosen to perform her piece alongside the impassioned speeches of presidents, prime ministers, and celebrities, including Al Gore (Chairman of Generation Investment Management and the Climate Reality Project) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor and UN Messenger of Peace).

Her performance, which ended with her being joined by her newborn daughter and husband, brought many world leaders to tears:

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Jetnil-Kijiner’s home is the Marshall Islands, a group of low-lying coral atolls in the northern Pacific Ocean, which have already witnessed the effects of rising ocean levels.  Her poem, ocean161marisl_003‘Dear Matafele Peinem,’ was written to her daughter: “You are so excited for bananas, hugs and our morning walks along the lagoon.”

The lagoon becomes a key metaphor for her, her daughter, and the future of the Marshall Islands:  “I want to tell you about that lagoon. That lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise. Men say, that one day, that lagoon will devour you.” The rising ocean levels have caused the waters in the lagoon overflow their banks, slowly ‘devouring’ the land around it.’  

But in Jetnil-Kijiner’s poem, the lagoon does not yet win:

“And we are canoes blocking coal ships. We are the radiance of solar villages. We are the rich clean soil of the farmer’s past. We are petitions blooming from teenage fingertips.

 

We are families biking, recycling, reusing, engineers dreaming, designing, building, artists painting, dancing, writing.

 

“We are spreading the word. And there are thousands out on the street, marching with signs, hand in hand chanting for change NOW.”

Her performance received a standing ovation from world leaders and summit delegates, proving (yet again) the power of poetry.  You can see Jetnil-Kijiner performing her piece at the UN Summit here and watch a high-definition video for it here.

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The SLAM Returns to CPC

Slam Audience

CPC was rocked on Thursday night by the 2nd Annual Poetry Slam and Multicultural Celebration.  Students, faculty, and staff packed the dining hall turned slam stage to see who would bring their best game and take over the title of CPC Slam Poet Champion and celebrate our cultural diversity past and present.

Dinner ServiceThe evening kicked off with a very welcoming international dinner sponsored by CPC’s International Society Club and included the handy work of Tynesha Robinson, Christine Fusselman, Kendra Elliot, and of course, club advisor, Romeo Azondekon.  Everyone raved about the international cuisine, going back for second, thirds, and even a couple take-home boxes.   Many thanks to the club’s dedicated members and their unending generosity for our student body.

Special thanks goes out to the Drama Club whose faculty advisor, Janet Bixler, helped to organize the event.  The Drama Club helped with set-up and clean-up, and several of its members performed in the contest.  The Central Pen E-zine would also like to thank Danielle Klebes and Student Activities for helping to plan the event and being the evening’s musical director.

330 Students

In addition to the international fare, students from Professor Maria James-Thiaw‘s Contemporary Writers of Color course created displays representing the writers they had been studying.  Students on hand included Giancarlo VanWright, Tony Noon, Ricky Cousar, Byron GuinyardNathan Reichert, and Michael Troutman, and a special thanks to the rest of the class including Kareem Aiken, Robert Ashkenes, Monica Hacker, Tamirra Milton, and Jamar Royster, for their behind-the-scenes work.


Hosts

The Hosts! Jade and Steve-O


 

Maria James-Thiaw

The Slam kicked off with a short poem from Maria James-Thiaw, “I am a poem,” which immediately set the tone and texture for the night’s contestants.  She welcomed our two hosts, Jade Harper and Steve “Steve-O” Osango, whose enthusiasm, humor, and passion kept the crowd buzzing all night.  The hosts introduced the judges, which included CPC’s own Maria James-Thiaw, local poet Dustin Nispel, student judge Ricky Cousar, and CPC’s Melissa Wehler.

IMG_4695Last year’s winner, Derrick “Muff” Johnson, was on hand to give support to the contestants telling them to ‘be their best’ and ‘have fun.’  We were also excited to have Christine Lincoln, the current poet laureate of York who performed a poem later on in the evening that welcomed new poetic talent into the fold.

Dustin Nispel

Local slam poet and author, Dustin Nispel, blessed the mic with two poems that had the audience snapping, clapping, laughing, and hooting.  Nispel played double-duty as both guest present and celebrity judge.  Nispel brought copies of his new book, The Tower, is a ‘blending of Spoken Word and poetry,’ which was quickly buzzed by the contestants and the crowd.

After Nispel warmed up the mic, the evening was turned over to the students.  One-by-one students stepped to the mic to pour our their passion in the hope of winning the $100 grand prize and the right to the title CPC Slam Champion.

Ayana

Ayana

TJ Blackwell, President of the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club, kicked off the evening’s events followed by a slew of newcomers.  Huge congrats to Sakinah Aziz, Aliah Speights, Ayana Addison, and Cody Robinson for blessing the mic.  Performers talked of love and loss, of growing up and moving on, and of triumphs and struggles in world that seems all too often stacked against them.  The audience gave snaps and claps as the results of the performances were announced.

After a dozen performances, three winners pulled away from the others:


3rd Prize: Lakeia Washington

Lakeia Washington


 

2nd Place: Teta Gaye

Teta Gaye


1st Place: Isaiah Isley

Isaiah Isley


 A special thank you to everyone who helped to bring the event to life whether that was organizing, planning, watching, or blessing the mic!

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Jazz, Drinks, and Poetry at The Central Pen Mixer

 

Mocktails and chit-chat to start the evening!

Mocktails and chit-chat to start the evening!

The Central Pen Literary E-Zine held a mixer event featuring the talents of students and faculty who submitted their creative work to the e-zine over the past year.  The event was organized by the faculty co-advisors, Professors Maria James-Thiaw and Melissa Wehler, Sarah Douglass, and the WACH committee including Kathy Panza, Sarah Davidson, Diane Porterfield, Micaiah Smith-Morris, and Jack Babinchak.  For the first part of the evening, students, faculty, and staff enjoyed mocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and light jazz before sitting down to enjoy the creative talents of our creative community.

Christopher Porter, Aja Williamson, and Derrick Johnson

Christopher Porter, Aja Williamson, and Derrick Johnson

Derrick Johnson, first-place winner of the slam poetry contest held earlier this year, hosted the event.  Along with the host, the event featured Aja Williamson, the second-place winner of the slam contest, and Christopher Porter, the third place winner.  The three recited new, original poetry to an excited crowd of one hundred students, faculty, and staff.  Keep an eye out for this triple threat at our next poetry slam. Continue reading

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The Central Pen Mixer!

Join the contributors to the new “Central Pen Literary Journal” as they present their submitted works, ranging from poetry to short fiction. This upscale event features heavy hors d‘oeuvres and drinks. Attendees are asked to dress in business casual attire, just like you would dress when attending an after-hours business mixer or networking event.
Student performances begin at 8:30 p.m. The emcee guiding the night is student Derrick Johnson, winner of the 2013 NCommon Poetry Slam.

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