Showing posts with label spoken word poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spoken word poetry. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

High Level UN Meeting on Youth and Conflict

Today I'm looking forward to sitting on a high level panel at the UN on the issue of youth and conflict.  I was asked to participate in this because of a film and poetry initiative I did with UNFPA and the Women's Refugee Commission called Youth Zones (which you can view in English, French, Spanish or Arabic at

With Youth Zones, I traveled with youth activist Chernor Bah from Sierra Leone and poetry mentor, Luke Nephew from the spoken word/creative writing non-profit I work with - Urban Word NYC - to Liberia, Colombia, Lebanon, Northern Uganda and New Orleans to document the struggles and resiliency of young people facing conflicts and natural disasters.  My talk will focus specifically on the poetry workshops and how young people in emergencies can benefit and heal from such creative, safe spaces.

As part of my efforts to engage local artists in my film related outreach activities, I recruited Bajah from Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew to also sit on the panel to discuss his experiences as a youth growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone .Here is a really great 3-minute clip that touches on the experience of Bajah and his bandmates.

If you are attending the ECOSOC event at the UN or are interested in being a special guest, send an email to the RSVP listed on the invite above.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Urban Word Live!!!

This year I'm really excited to try out some new technology. I'm partnering with Urban Word NYC - the nonprofit I spend a lot of time with that gives free workshops in spoken word poetry and creative writing to NYC teens - to do an online broadcast of their 2010 slam season.

That's right - you can watch the slam from the comfort of your own computer and its totally free. The preliminary slam starts February 28th.  Check the site for the rest of the schedule.

If you want to check out some of the most talented young social commentators (ie poets), please join our Facebook Fan Page at


and visit our site at

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Giving Young People a Voice

While I'm not shooting or editing my films, I spend most of my time in NYC with a great non-profit that gives free after-school spoken word poetry workshops called Urban Word NYC where I teach workshops, film events and help with the development of the organization. The young writers and poets I have met there are some of the most talented, inspiring, insightful, critical thinkers I have come across. They embody the hope I have for the future of this country.

It has always been a dream of mine to have some of them accompany me on a trip to Africa so that they can see and think for themselves about life in other different, remote places of the world. To give perspective to their own worlds as it did for me. Call me critical, but I feel most of what young people are exposed to about Africa these days involves buying a bracelet, wearing a t-shirt, or making a donation without having the opportunity to be more engaged in a sophisticated dialogue about what drives poverty, violence, etc in Africa.

The two organizations I am collaborating with on my new projects are giving me an opportunity to bring two of these young people with me to work as my assistants on my shoots. This is such a progressive way to make a film that is intended to engage their generation, I feel.

In an effort to capture and share their experiences, I've asked them to keep journals and also blog so that their peers can follow along. (If you want to view their entries, please visit A larger group will be taking a multi-country trip later in the year to meet with African scholars, writers, musicians, etc. to balance the imagery and stories coming out of the Motherland. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 4, 2008

LinkTV's "One Nation: Muslims in America" contest

Today my short film, "Tahani" went live on the LinkTV's One Nation Film contest. It is a 5-minute portrait of Tahani as a Palestinian-American spoken word artist and her experiences with the non-profit, Urban Word NYC. The contest is pretty cool - there are six categories of films committed to exploring the Muslim experience in America. The five top scoring films get judged by a panel of "celebrity judges" (including Marianne Pearl, Danny Glover, etc.). And the bonus - there's cash prizes associated with the top scorers. I told Tahani if we won it, I would split it with her - she gets to pay her tuition at Columbia and I get funds for my new film!

Besides the potential prize that awaits, it was inspiring for me to cut this film. I have been involved in some level with Urban Word since 2003 and Tahani was the very first poet I met. I've spent quite a bit of time with her and her family who I absolutely love and adore. I have learned in a very intimate way about the struggles Muslims - and particularly Palestinians - have while living here.

If you have time to vote, please feel free (you do have to register beforehand.) Click the LinkTV logo in the top left corner.