Photo from Urbarts.org
I will have been in St. Louis four years this June *gasp* Oh.... How time flies when you spend two years stuck in a rut and the other two living your dreams. There was no short way to say that. However, VerbQuake has been one of those things that just kind of crept up on me.
What is VerbQuake?
It’s a teen performing arts program that is steadily growing each year. This year it has become a Missouri regional slam that has reached numerous high schools throughout the area. It's parent organization is UrbArts.
Why is this important?
You remember high school? You remember having something to say and adults seeming not to listen? You remember adolescence where that seemed to be the running theme? Well I was lucky enough to get involved in a group called ArtBEATS in Baltimore, MD to find my voice. Kids here in St. Louis or surrounding hadn’t really had that till VerbQuake. PLUS VerbQuake sends kids to Brave New Voices and Chicago Louder Than a Bomb . (Both are poetry slams if you’re confused)
So I’ve had multiple titles when it has come to VerbQuake. I started as a coach in 2014. It was random and I knew instantly this was a program I wanted to invest in. (hence the whole blog post dedication). Then in 2015-2016 I was a coach. Meaning I went in the schools and attempted to bestow wisdom and lead them to greatness. I lead them… Somewhere . Some of my team are now competitive on their own, but I’m not sure if it’s because I was their coach or if they’re just brilliant or both, probably their brilliance to be honest. I was still struggling as a teammate and competitive poet myself so… Anywho, this year has been the job for me. Judge coordinator/bout manager. I mean NOW I think I could coach better, but I like the brass tax of it all. Scheduling, contacting, sweating… It all reminds me of theatre. I love being in the background/forefront. Like you can see me, but you don’t have to focus on me. Like you can acknowledge, but I don’t need the glory like that.
My favorite part is hearing the students express themselves, hearing the concepts from young minds that are good enough to challenge some adults. I love seeing their gears churn and their honesty give way. They inspire me to be more honest in my work allll the time. They’re brilliant. (Have I said that?) Also having a conversation with them is like… *explosion sound* They just blow your mind. Hard part about my job is looking at the details only at times. Just moving numbers not emotions. I think that’s the hardest about slam poetry in general.
The finals are this weekend and I’m excited for the results. I’m also a bit nervous for them too.
The point being... Even if kids are afraid they swallow that fear and try something new. Seeing the bravery of these highschoolers reminds me to not be so fearful of trying new and daunting things. It reminds me we all need a place and space for our voices to be heard don't ever think that you have to quiet yourself.
Check out Urbarts.org for more info on VerbQuake
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