By partnering with Mass Poetry, we were able to bring two acclaimed poets to BHS to facilitate writing workshops. Each poet ran two sessions – guiding students through various exercises to help them jumpstart their own work.
Identity Through Storytelling, facilitated by Rage Hezekiah
Rage Hezekiah is a Cave Canem and MacDowell Fellow who earned her MFA from Emerson College. She is the recipient of the Saint Botolph Emerging Artist Award in Literature and was nominated for Best New Poets, 2017. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Fifth Wednesday, Columbia Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Cape Rock, and Tampa Review, as well as other journals. Her writing is featured in various anthologies including Other Tongues:Mixed Race Women Speak Out and Nasty Women Poets: An Anthology of Subversive Verse.
In this workshop students discussed LGBTQIA+ voice and how identity informs poetic storytelling. They explored poetry by contemporary poets and talked about bringing their own stories to the page. Language is a powerful tool, central in how we identify ourselves, and through poetry we can embrace that power to talk about who we are. This workshop emphasized how to incorporate our holistic, intersectional identities into our poems.
Tupac, Hip Hop, and Love Poems, facilitated by Neiel Israel
Neiel Israel is an internationally acclaimed poet, vocalist, and arts educator. Emerging from the Boston spoken-word scene, she quickly distinguished herself as a powerful, and lyrical poetic force. She is a member of the 2017 Boston Poetry Slam Team, and represented the 2016 Boston Poetry Slam at both the National Poetry Slam and the Individual World Poetry Slam as the World Qualifier winner. She has previously represented the Lizard Lounge at Nationals (2011-2015) and the Women of the World Poetry Slam (2011). As an international teaching artist, Neiel leads workshops, seminars and classes in creative writing for colleges/universities, schools, community, and art programs.
This workshop helped students to draw connections between poetry, hip hop and oral-traditions related to hip-hop culture, while also exploring hip hop’s intersection of love, family, and community. The workshop was a fun, safe and supportive environment for students to read, write, recite, and listen to one another’s work.
Following the workshops, the students attended an open mic where both Rage and Neiel performed their work, and students had an opportunity to share what they wrote throughout the day.