In an article reprinted from the fall 2006 issue of Wisconsin People & Ideas (formerly Wisconsin Academy Review), writer Susan Kepecs profiles Youth Speaks, an innovative poetry program that encourages high-schoolers to express themselves while reclaiming hip-hop from commercialization and negative imagery. Youth Speaks Wisconsin is affiliated with the national Youth Speaks organization based in San Francisco and founded by a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus.
In Madison, the local Youth Speaks poetry team falls under the auspices of UW-Madison's Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives, led by Willie Ney. Beginning in 2007, the UW-Madison will offer a one-of-a-kind learning community, dubbed First Wave, that will give poetry- and hip-hop-loving teens a way to continue practicing their craft as they move on to college.
To read Kepecs' article, download the PDF file:
You will need a copy of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to view this file. If you do not have it, you can download a free copy of Acrobat Reader here.
You can also view video of the Youth Speaks teens in action:
Introduction to Youth Speaks, produced by Madison Metropolitan School District (26 min.)
Third Annual Teen Spoken Word Finals, Jan. 28, 2006, produced by Instructional Media Development Center (1 hr. 14 min.)
Wisconsin People & Ideas is published quarterly by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1870. The Wisconsin Academy celebrates the state's thought and culture. It is also one of seven members of the Cultural Coalition of Wisconsin, the group that sponsors PortalWisconsin.org. For Wisconsin Academy membership information, click here.