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Cut & Paste — UrbArts Taps The Transformative Power Of The Spoken Word

UrbArts founder MK Stallings and St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate Camryn Howe say the power of the spoken word is electric. [5/30/19]
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio
UrbArts founder MK Stallings and St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate Camryn Howe say the power of the spoken word is electric.

Camryn Howe discovered the power of poetry as a high school freshman, when a conversation in physics class led to an impromptu visit to her school’s slam poetry club. When she heard her classmates’ work, crackling with energy and performed aloud, she was hooked. Spoken-word poetry, she found, gave her a way to communicate things that felt too raw to express any other way — and she found the gumption to share her work onstage in front of strangers.

Howe, 18, is now St. Louis’s Youth Poet Laureate. She’ll be a part of Rustbelt Poetry Slam, an annual event now in its 20th year that will be hosted in St. Louis for the first time, at .ZACK on June 21 and 22. The organizer is UrbArts, the Old North-based nonprofit focused on youth outreach through the power of the word.

UrbArts founder MK Stallings says poetry works as a form of youth outreach because of the sheer power of communication.

“Not only are you a poet, you’re an effective communicator,” Stallings said. “[You can] maybe even bring distant communities closer to you because you’re able to communicate something cultural for those communities that may have felt out of the conversation. Then you are bringing people together in very meaningful ways, through poetry.”

In this episode of “Cut & Paste,” Howe and Stallings talk about what led each of them to the art form, and describe the electricity present when they take their words from the page to the stage.

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Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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