Spotlight on Young DFW Writers
To celebrate the release of Starve the Vulture — the latest release in Akashic’s Kaylie Jones Books imprint — we’re pleased to bring you a spotlight on author Jason Carney’s Young DFW Writers program written by Laura Roach.
An exciting new high school program was recently launched in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Modeled on the successful Young Chicago Authors program and its acclaimed Louder Than A Bomb slam poetry competition, Young DFW Writers is implementing its groundbreaking program on four flagship campuses across the Dallas/Fort Worth community, with plans to grow to sixty-four schools in the first five years.
The Young DFW Writers curriculum is implemented by a small group of local teaching artists . . . established poets gifted in the unique genre of slam poetry that combines verbal prowess with dramatic expression to create riveting performance art. Provided at no charge to participating high schools and their students, this program reaches out to those students most at risk and draws them in with its roots in hip-hop lyricism. The curriculum teaches these young poets to tap into their personal struggles, find their voices, and speak, sing, shout, and scream their perspectives through art.
Over a period of ten to twenty weeks, teaching artists meet with students in a series of writing workshops, where they help students identify and articulate their perspectives and issues. Students create dramatic oral presentations of their work, inspired by classical poets and performance artists alike. The culmination of these efforts is a metroplex-wide competition that showcases the vibrant and amazing talent these youths discover in themselves.
The results are transformative and powerful. Kids no longer feel alone, unnoticed, powerless, or numb; instead, they feel connected, alive, empowered, and passionate. Beyond that, they feel accountable and ready to be heard. Imagine the impact a program like this can have on the most needy kids in a community, and the difference it can make in their future and that of the community as a whole.
Introducing a new program can be challenging in any environment; in Dallas/Fort Worth, the geographic ramifications alone are daunting. Stretching across 9,286 square miles, the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex comprises thirteen counties and a land area larger than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. With over 6.5 million residents, Dallas/Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth largest in the US. Young DFW Writers is committed to engaging students across this vast area in a manner that prioritizes geographic balance. Each of the four inaugural campuses is in a different city, and plans to add schools in the future reflect a determination to represent students and schools from all communities across the metroplex. This commitment to inclusiveness underscores the passion and potential for Young DFW Writers to be a force for unification in a highly diverse population.
In addition to weekly workshops on campus, Young DFW Writers sponsors community-focused training events for students. Through Check the Method, participating students meet on “neutral” ground (none of their campuses) to learn about various issues in the diverse communities around Dallas/Fort Worth, exploring differences between their particular environments and experiences as well as common ground.
Young DFW Writers artistic director Jason Carney has big dreams for extending the reach and impact of this exciting program. In addition to exponential growth each year for the next five, Carney plans to bring the empowerment of poetry to area victims of domestic violence as well as local correctional facilities. His plans for expansion in schools include establishing a summer institute for training educators and partnering with major universities in DFW and nearby cities to develop collegiate scholarship programs for poetry students.
Young DFW Writers is actively seeking community partners who share this vision of united and empowered youth. For more information on how you can help Young DFW Writers rewrite the conversation in Dallas/Fort Worth, please visit www.ydfw.org.
Posted: Jan 28, 2015
Category: Akashic in Good Company | Tags: Akashic in Good Company, Poetry, Texas, Dallas, spotlight, Starve the Vulture, Starve the Vulture: A Memoir, memoir, Jason Carney, slam poetry, poet, Young DFW Writers, Laura Roach, Louder Than A Bomb, Dallas/Fort Worth