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Poets to Slam at MMS and MHS

MHS News Release

Molokai High School students will be slammed on the first hour of their first day back from spring break on Monday, March 23. Molokai Middle School students will be slammed in the afternoon. All this slamming will be spoken by poets from Pacific Tongues. Assemblies at both schools will expose rural students to the rhythmic cadences of urban scenes when these Hawaii poets from Oahu will wow local teens with humor and pain, love and longing, darkness and hope – favorite teen topics – with original poems in a slam – poetic deliveries that sometimes assault audience ears with impassioned points-of-view. Slam poetry values passion over politeness.

Pacific Tongues poets, led by Jason Mateo, Program Director, and Jocelyn Ng, award-winning poet, and three other slam poet-facilitators, will also conduct slam poetry classroom residencies at both schools throughout Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, March 23-25.

On Tuesday afternoon, March 24, Molokai teachers from all schools are invited to a professional development session using classroom curriculum to teach poetry utilizing student culture, the classroom environment, and the community. They will offer proven techniques to engage students, from all grade levels, in critical conversations, creative writing, and the spoken arts.

Pacific Tongues is coming to Molokai schools through an ARTS First grant from the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts which the team of Molokai High School librarian Diane Mokuau, counselor Alanna Kaho`ohanohano, and teacher Ric Ornellas, won for the schools. Pacific Tongues is a nonprofit arts organization founded a decade ago on Oahu that cultivates an active artistic Oceanic community of writers, spoken word performers, leaders, educators and students of all ages. They practice kuleana through creative workshops, public events and pedagogical development.

While slam poetry rose in the past two decades from urban sensibilities and youthful angst in crowded settings, slam resonates on many levels for troubled teens. Given the rate of youth suicides on Molokai – which for the past six years has been double the national average for a population of 10,000 – slam poetry offers a voice to teens who may have lost their self-esteem and self-identity from negative peer pressures.  Slam can be the critical opportunity for disenfranchised teens to assert their inner power through spoken word.

Other Molokai schools will be able to work with visiting poets by coming on Wednesday, March 25 to share original work at a Slam Poetry Ohana Night at the Molokai High School Library at 6 p.m. Local Molokai poets Maile and Hanohano Naehu will also slam and feature their young poetry students.

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