by Jasmine Walker, APIARY Youth Editor

On Friday, April 18th, Apiary’s youth editors hosted a writing workshop at Travelers Aid Family Services in West Philly. I walked in the room while Lindo (APIARY’s Spoken Word Editor)  was delivering a freestyle spoken word piece using a few words that the kids had given him. He was in the zone—steady and confident—and held everyone’s attention. When it was over, the kids’ faces lit up.

Before the exercise began, Lindo asked the kids to shout out some words to be used in his freestyle spoken word piece.

“Did I forget ‘sad’?” Lindo asked over the applause.

“No!”

The tiny computer lab was small and hot but the energy was flowing. In this workshop, Eve (APIARY Youth Editor) and Lindo asked the students to write their own pieces—10 lines in 10 minutes—about his or her voice. All the kids typed away and seemed eager to share and ready to be heard.

At the eleventh minute, hands were raised from almost every writer in the room. Their voices not only sounded different as they read their poems, but they also looked different. Some used a fancy font, some typed in extra large or bold print and a few used colored texts.

One boy spoke about how much his voice stood out around his friends, family and neighborhood. He was content with the fact that no one could see it yet because he knew that one day no one would be able to deny it. The only girl in the workshop wrote about how important her voice was even when no one was around to listen.

Even though students were only in middle school, they all seemed to have experienced things that they recognized as shaping them, for better or for worse. The hour long workshop produced one piece from each of the students but more that than, some of the kids understood the significance of their voice.

Reposted from APIARY magazine.

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