Meet the poets from TruArtSpeaks Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series

Qalid Hussein in the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser studio at MPR
Poet Qalid Hussein in the Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser studio at MPR (MPR Photo | Mary Mathis)

As the hip-hop and R&B show for The Current, The Message aims to bring our listeners great music and celebrate fixtures of the hip-hop and R&B world in the Twin Cities and beyond. There is a stunning and omnipresent connection between these genres and poetry. Few organizations in the Twin Cities that have been as instrumental to creating generations of talented poets, activists, musicians, thinkers than TruArtSpeaks. So it was a no-brainer to bring these poets into our studios. We are very grateful to Tish Jones, coach Alexei Casselle and facilitator Fatima Camara.

It has been an honor for us to host appearances from some of the finest young artists working in Minnesota today, the Be Heard 2019 Youth Slam Team from TruArtSpeaks.

Leo Remke-Rochard "In Memory of Buggy"

Leo's poem "In Memory of Buggy" buzzes with all the thick detail a poet can only deliver when he has dug deep into the experiences he's depicting. Leo's poem starts in the confusing pre-dawn hours of a teenage house party but quickly moves into the painful details of a friend overdosing. Leo's courage to go into the details and not romanticize the pain leaves a damning indictment of the toll drugs take on the user, but also the toll our inactions place on all of us.

Mark Pekala - "Thoughts I Have on the Light Rail"

Young people in general and young poets in particular have a gift to interrogate and critique business as usual. In this poem Mark Pekala asks if the Twin Cities has its priorities straight, if the way we manage our light rail service thinks first of efficiency and last of humanity. Mark locates his complicity in this system, while also pointing towards a system that might run differently.

Qalid Hussein - "I Wonder"

Qalid's poem brings an individual voice to an existence and an identity that is often discussed in broad brushstrokes without any tenderness or humanity. Qalid's poem explores his identity as a young man with deep but strained connections to the United States and Somalia. Qalid digs deep into the core of his identity by questioning his name, his tongue, and his family. In his own words during the interview, Qalid described the poem as being about "losing one's culture, but not necessarily wanting to lose it, and the right to go and find it."

Anna Snider - "Inheritance"

Anna Snider's poem about her family's history of eating disorders is a powerful statement on the difficulty of navigating body image and self-love across generations. She takes this personal family story and connects it with the genetic analysis known as a pedigree chart. Combining her familial struggle with this genetic background places the inevitability of facing your genetic predispositions with the self-awareness to find your own direction.

Laurel Reynolds - "Bridges"

This poem hurt to hear. In Laurel's words "when I was in 8th grade, I was 14, so a minor and I dated someone that was an adult". Laurel's courage to reassess that relationship and to re-understand it as manipulation, as abuse and as criminal is powerful and courageous. It's a stunning tribute to her spirit that she has persevered and a document of her talent that she can process it in a way that can help others.

Anna Snider and Laurel Reynolds - "Women Centered"

A poem is such an intimate way to occupy someone else's world. In this poem I can start to feel the trauma, the stress, the anger of being a teenage girl. For all the statistics and prose I read about how different things are for girls, nothing can really get inside my head like hearing these women share their stories, their indignities and their struggles as they grow up.


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