Spoken-word is immediate and accessible. Without cast or crew, you can write, perform and be heard. This project turns the Slam Your Poetry book into an online resource for teachers and young people. Students will transform their personal experiences into poetry. This catharsis supports positive mental health outcomes; helping people heal from the crises of climate change, bush-fires and COVID-19.
This project will bring into the classroom an online resource for teaching spoken-word poetry, reaching school communities that have been affected not just by COVID-19, but also from an unrelenting sequence of bushfires, drought, flooding, other environmental and economic impacts. It prepares the way for spoken-word poetry to be taught in schools, adding literacy and creative literary expression to the curriculum.
Word Travels is the host of the national Australian Poetry Slam (APS) and APS-Youth, the Multilingual Poetry Slam and Story-Week. Word Travels’ Founder and Creative Director Miles Merrill has published with award-winning secondary school teacher Narcisa Nozica the book ‘Slam Your Poetry’, which will be developed into a teaching module for secondary school children. The module will provide a creative vehicle for young people in regional Australia to share feelings unmasked by COVID-19 and recent climate crises; the module will also help children to express feelings about underlying issues including discrimination, poverty, physical and mental illness, isolation, domestic violence, economic uncertainty, identity. It will include online (and, post COVID-19, face-to-face) poetry slams, with families and communities participating as audience members, raising the capacity for deeper understanding of shared and personal story, strengthening social cohesion. Word Travels will encourage young artists in a post-COVID-19 world to continue their spoken-word poetry, increasing life opportunities.
With young people learning spoken-word poetry skills at school, there will be more children inspired to continue spoken-word events beyond the classroom. This includes establishing annual school slams, poetry festivals, school clubs, presenting in Word Travels and other events. Sharing of new writing creates an opportunity for deeper communication. Following one spoken-word poetry engagement, presenter Ahmad’s neighbour exclaimed, ‘Ahmad, I’ve never heard you speak like that.’ With skilled young poets in the community, Word Travels will encourage young artists to perform in community centres, aged care facilities, migrant resource centres, prisons, hospitals, local festivals and at other community events. Where physical isolation makes this impossible, local artists will be encouraged to put their poems on local radio, online and to share them by phone to keep spirits up, a sense of community. Word Travels also helps artists be paid for their craft and launch successful careers.