Dr. Susan Weinstein Offers a Look at the Who, How, and Why of Youth Spoken Word at Sundays@4
It is well documented that Baton Rouge is a hotbed for young spoken word poets (and home to 2017's World Champion team from the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival). On Sunday, September 23, BRG’s Sundays@4 series welcomes author and LSU’s MacCurdy Distinguished Associate Professor of English, Dr. Susan Weinstein, for a special look at the impact, history, practice, and practitioners of youth spoken word with her new book, The Room is on Fire.
As with all Sundays@4 events, this special presentation is open to the public and free to attend.
Published by SUNY Press, the book tells - through the voices of those directly involved in it - the story of how youth spoken word performance has evolved and the challenges it faces today. Weinstein blends history and theory while exploring how spoken word poetry is taught and presented. Interviewees include slam festival organizers, spoken word organization founders, and the poets moving the art form forward.
Among the local artists featured are Desiree V. Dallagiacomo, Donney Rose, Chancelier “Xero” Skidmore, and Anna West; each of whom have been instrumental in the fostering of Baton Rouge’s spoken word community and the success of the local nonprofit Forward Arts.
“I don’t know if it’s possible to thoroughly study that which you do not love. After all, what drives a scholar to meticulously catalogue every minute attribute of a thing, besides an obsessive fascination with its beauty; its intangible magic? Dr. Weinstein is OUR scholar,” explains Skidmore. “I say that with pride because I’ve seen her laugh, weep, and ponder with the youth poets and adults educators of multiple programs for over 10 years. Her accuracy in depicting our work mirrors a poet’s obsessive fascination with the truth. It is because she has always been one of us.”
For the last decade-and-a-half, Weinstein’s research has focused on the writing practices of teenagers, especially socio-culturally marginalized youth. Since 2007, she has been immersed in the field of youth spoken word poetry, collaborating with organizations and educators throughout the U.S. and England.