Brave New Voices Are Being Heard Loud & Clear

Somewhere there are students spending the dwindling days of summer break like the last few coins in their pockets, wishing it would never end. And then there are the ones who took the stage last night at Hoyt Sherman Place to perform what they’ve been working on this summer in Minorities on the Move (MOM), a spoken word poetry program sponsored by United Way and directed by Harding Middle School teachers Kristopher Rollins, Emily Lang and Larry Moore II. If you ask them, it’s show time!

MOM was an extension of Movement 515, the creative writing program started by Rollins and Lang that meets weekly throughout the school year and sent a contingent of DMPS kids to the Brave New Voices youth poetry festival last month in San Francisco.

Last night’s event was an opportunity to see growth happening, like watching a time lapse video of a seed from groundbreaking to fruit-bearing. There was a current of confidence running through the auditorium and the performers rode it, start to finish, taking chances and turning themselves inside out. It stems from the emphasis on “energetic reciprocity,” whereby everyone lifts one another up. One poet briefly lost her way and reached into the pocket of her jeans for a folded copy of her work. While the audience shouted and clapped encouragement she found her way and accelerated back up to cruising speed, slipping the notes back in her pocket as she shifted into high gear. Fingers snapped approval, sounding like a chorus of cicadas claiming the night.

Local minority history bios were interspersed with memorized, original work poetry and the high-energy group breakdancing routine that opened the show, in keeping with the program’s interdisciplinary, community-centric approach.

What’s building is a bridge across the achievement gap and it’s ready for more traffic. There’s no standard way to measure the strength of it but you could feel it and see it and hear it last night at Hoyt Sherman. Rollins, Lang and Moore are anxious to scale-up their uniquely DMPS initiatives, encouraging students from schools across the district to join Movement 515 which will meet every Thursday from 4:00-5:30 in room 1422 at North High School.

Anyone interested in donating resources or simply learning more about the exciting, promising work these kids and their teachers are about can click here:

Photos from the Minorities on the Move performance

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