When given permission, the kids can express things they are holding on to and perhaps were for years. Many of our students have endured severely traumatic experiences and situations. For the students to feel comfortable enough to open their difficult truths, I must live authentically and model that honesty, so they are able to take steps in that direction. With Spoken Word, if it’s not honest, the poem will fall flat no matter how fancy the words are. If it is honest, the poems can be very simple and beautiful. Like the beauty of a raindrop or a flower, just shining and being what it is. I encourage the kids to show their face, their spirit, their "kingdom face"—a face that is eternal. If the young people reconnect to that eternal nature on a daily basis, through poetry, through song, through dance, or simply through conscious breathing, they will be happy in school, and everything in their lives will go a bit more smoothly. The Spoken Word students are examples of this. They really are much happier as a result of writing and performing and simply being part of our poetry circle.
Our poetry feels like the landscape of the Southwest, its rhythms are natural and indigenous. We reverence our art as prayer. From the genesis of an idea through the writing/revising process all the way to offering on stage in performance, the students and I honor the sacredness of creating and sharing new stories. The young SFIS poets are carrying on the ancient tradition of storytelling in this new, modern way. It is beautiful and allows the students to access and articulate their highest truths. The process of creation is a very powerful vehicle for character and identity shaping. It has been magical to do this work with young Native people. Our students are hungry to care about their academic work, and this is a way for them to do that.
Source: Tim McLaughlin, SFIS Spoken Word Founder