The reverberation of hip-hop rhythms through pop culture has lent a fresh relevance to various “spoken word” genres of writing and performing. Poetry slams have become a fixture of the cultural scene in cities like Flagstaff and Corpus Christi as well as New York and San Francisco.

Meanwhile, even in the face of a national love affair with standardized testing, creative writing still has its defenders. Believing that young people will learn literate practices when those practices are in the service of their own purposes, these educators favor workshops over worksheets.

A handful of organizations squat at the intersection of these two cultural streams: they aim to cultivate youth literacy by initiating teenagers into the craft of slamming. Some of them simply run slams and invite young people to participate. Others want to midwife new poets into being, so their goal is to bring “free, safe and uncensored” writing workshops to young people.

“Free, safe and uncensored” turns out to be quite a trick. Read the rest of this entry »


stephenson on wink

March 15, 2009

I’m grateful to Wikipedia for directing me to this fascinating mention of the theologian Walter Wink by the novelist Neal Stephenson (who, as the author of Anathem, is an imposing figure in my mind right now); it’s an example of cross-fertilization between my two geekdoms, so I’m pleased. Read the rest of this entry »