Poets-in-schools program returns to Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley | AspenTimes.com

Poets-in-schools program returns to Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley

Logan Phillips, pictured with a class at the Carbondale Community School in 2015. Phillips is among four teaching poets who who will lead poetry workshops with Roaring Fork Valley students over the next two weeks.

February is poetry season in the Roaring Fork Valley's schools as a team of four teaching poets hustle and flow between 16 local middle and high schools and work with 3,000 local students.

The annual program, part of Aspen Words' Writers in Schools initiative, includes two weeks of bilingual poetry workshops.

For the fifth year, the program will culminate in a Youth Poetry Slam on Feb. 16. The slam at the Third Street Center in Carbondale will pit winning poets from assemblies at participating schools against one another in friendly competition.

The popular workshops give kids a platform for self-expression as well as lessons on figures of speech, like metaphor, in an accessible seminars with a hip-hop spirit, while also offering a cultural bridge between the valley's young Spanish and English speakers.

"The most amazing thing is how confident the students already are in themselves, but how much more self-confident they get," teaching poet Toluwanimi Obiwole told The Aspen Times last year. "It's amazing for them to discover things that maybe they didn't even know were lurking in their hearts. And also to see how encouraged they are to say, 'Oh, my god, I wrote a poem! I'm a poet!'"

Obiwole, 23, was named Denver's inaugural Youth Poet in 2015 and last year she joined the growing team of charismatic young teaching poets: Myrlin "Myrlindo" Hepworth, based in Phoenix, who has been leading workshops here since 2013; Tucson, Arizona-based poet Logan "Dirty Verbs" Phillips; and Mercedez Holtry, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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All four will perform Feb. 13 at Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar.

The annual school program and slam have dovetailed with a resurgence of the valley's poetry scene in recent years, including the Aspen Poets' Society's monthly readings, a youth poetry slam at the Temporary in Willits, books by local poets like Cameron K. Scott and Wade Newsom, the formation of student poetry clubs and the Carbondale-based youth poetry group First Word, along with well-attended readings by nationally renowned poets like last month's Winter Words event with U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.

atravers@aspentimes.com

IF YOU GO …

What: Poetry Slam Performance

Where: Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar

When: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 5:30 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: The slam will feature poets Myrlin Hepworth, Mercedez Holtry, Toluwanimi Obiwole and Logan Phillips; http://www.aspenwords.org

*

What: 5th Annual Youth Poetry Slam

Where: Third Street Center, Carbondale

When: Friday, Feb. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

How much: Free

More info: http://www.aspenwords.org