Diary 4: Less than 2 weeks to the Semi-Finals

The WordUp kids meet every Thursday with a group of mentors/tutors and their team leader, Elese Daniels.  With less than two weeks until the Louder Than A Bomb semi-finals, this past Thursday meeting had a different vibe to it.  The kids and the tutors all knew that this was crunch time and you could feel it in the air.

Since November, the students have been learning different techniques and exercises to learn how to write their poems and they’ve had the chance to work on several different pieces.

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Junior Jordan Kindell works on his poem during WordUp meeting

Now, with the competition rapidly approaching, the luxury of time is gone and the kids have started focusing specifically on their performance pieces with the tutors.  At this meeting, they worked on their poems for the first hour and then performed for the group to get specific critiques.

Now that the students are working on the same pieces week after week, I have finally started to notice a difference in the students writing and performance.

Also, it has been really interesting seeing the wide array of topics for these young poets.  As one might expect, there are poems about love. Love obtained. Love lost. Love hoped for.

Still, there are also poems about loss, trials, pain, faith, and one fantastic poem that shines a different point of view on a very sensitive subject.

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Rules written down on the first day of WordUp

One thing that was stressed at the very first meeting was the idea of respect.  Respect for the speaker and respect for the voice.  In all the times I’ve been with these kids, I have never heard one student say anything negative about another students work. They might have some constructive criticism, but never anything mean which shows that this environment these mentors & tutors have created for these students is a safe place for creativity.

After the students were finished polishing and practicing their pieces, they all crammed into cars to venture out into the cold and across the wilds of Cincinnati to a poetry slam at Visionaries & Voices, an art studio & creative space in Northside.

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Sign outside Visionaries & Voices, an artist studio and gallery where the WordUp students had a poetry slam

In the past, few of our WordUp kids would attend these monthly poetry slams, but this time was different.  Nearly all of the students who attended the after school workshop not only went to the slam, but also participated in it.  In fact, the only poets who performed were WordUp kids.  That’s a vast improvement from just a month ago and if this is any indication of the progress these next few weeks, than these kids will be more than ready for Louder Than A Bomb!

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