Literary arts nonprofit, Forward Arts, is gearing up for Slam Camp – a three-week specialized summer experience for youth, ages 13-19, interested in learning elements of writing and performing poetry. The camp, which will begin on June 12 on the campus of Louisiana State University, offers participants instruction from world-class practitioners of the art form including Forward Arts’ staff members who have excelled at the highest levels of performance poetry.
“One of the many benefits to participating in Slam Camp is the mastery of fearlessness,” said Chancelier Skidmore, Forward Arts’ Executive Director and former world poetry slam champion. “Public speaking is scary, but when given the tools to write compelling texts and to deliver those texts with ferocity and charisma, it opens up an entire realm of goals that seemed improbable before.”
A typical day at Slam Camp includes attendees participating in community building exercises, writing workshops, eating lunch at LSU’s student union, group dialogues, reading circles and performance activities. Slam Camp also features special guest artists visiting once a week to do lecture demonstrations. Of past guest lecturers are trumpeter John Gray and former Louisiana Poet-Laureate Ava Haymon.
Claudia Dixon, a mother of three past camp participants said she witnessed an immediate growth within her otherwise introverted sons.
“As a returning parent to slam camp, I cannot explain how important it is to allow my children the ability to express themselves using a variety of methods, including verbal art.” Dixon said. “My sons have not only impressed me with their spoken word skills, they are now open to discussing social, political and gender issues that were never of importance to them prior to Slam Camp – my introverts have been converted.”
More than exploring poetry and personal growth, Slam Camp offers participants a sense of community with likeminded youth.
“I believe that young people participating in Slam Camp creates a more equitable opportunity for community storytelling,” said Desireé Dallagiacomo, Forward Arts program director and multi-time international slam finalist and viral sensation. “Because we have young folks from all walks of life, they hear stories and narratives from others that they wouldn’t encounter in their normal circles. This creates empathy and understanding, and we need that now more than ever.”
As a staple of Slam Camp, norms of interaction are established on the first day to create a safe space for open expression. Participants are encouraged to write and dialogue in a manner that is honest and with respect to their fellow campers.
Registration is now open. Slam Camp will take place June 12 to June 30, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A closing showcase of work participants prepared throughout the camp will be held on Friday, June 30.
The cost of the program is $150 for an individual camp participant. For families registering more than one youth, the cost is $100 per additional participant. Scholarships opportunities are available and determined on a case by case assessment of need. Registration and payment information available at forwardarts.org