Words from the Corner

1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish (100 words):
There is a disconnect in Philadelphia – if you live in a low-income neighborhood, there is a perception that society likes to introduce culture. What is often overlooked is the art-making that happens every day, the existing culture appreciated in these very same ‘underserved’ neighborhoods. A STAKE grant would help me create paths of communication between words spoken on the street, into media formats to reach new audiences. I will learn to set up a blog, video record neighborhood spoken word artists, transcribe the poems, and publish a small journal of Philadelphia Street Stories.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget (50 words):
I will pay each poet a modest honorarium for their creative contribution and then spend the rest on printing and distributing the poems. When we publish the work, there will be a public release event and performance. I will video-record and edit the tapes pro-bono with my mentor, El Sawyer.

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal) (100 words):
I have been a spoken word artist since I was young. I have had my work video-recorded, but never wrote anything down, until asked by the editors of CRED Magazine. Since then, I have had four works published and have performed several times. I learned filmmaking at The Village, and was the subject of a documentary called ‘Beirut Boys’. Filmmaking has opened many opportunities for me, and I would like to teach other young people how to make movies, and this project will be a way for me to do this while bringing attention to real street stories.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community? (100 words):
This is an art form that is integrated in the daily lives of predominantly young, black men in Philadelphia, and the poetry that is being made is limited within the audience of its makers. A lot of people have a lot of perceptions about young people in North Philly, perceptions that exist without being informed by meaningful conversation as equals. By sharing these poems – poems that are not only about drugs, or guns or violence, people will hear firsthand that we are articulate and that we have the same worries of being employed and educating our kids in this City.