Visiting Artists Bring New Forms of Poetry to ASW

by Sabina Soltysik

The week of April 24th, filmmaker Randy Kelly and poet Jamaal Jackson Rogers (also known as Just Jamaal the Poet) are visiting ASW, running workshops for all 9th and 10th grade students about cine poetry and spoken word poetry.

Visiting Artists Randy Kelly and Jamaal Jackson Rogers (Photo by Ms. McComb)

According to Randy and Jamaal, their objective is teaching creative writing to students by trying to teach what spoken word poetry and cinepoetry is.

For those who may not know, spoken word poetry is the art of using your words to express an idea, whereas cinepoetry combines words with the tools of cinema. It can be a concept with more abstract visuals or more direct visuals.

Randy focuses on cinepoetry, while Jamaal does the spoken poetry side. Together they try to teach students the power of their words.

3, 2, 1, Speak! (Photo by Ms. McComb)

During the workshops, Randy and Jamaal try give the students the tools to express themselves through creative writing. There is a bit of history and a bit of review of poetic devices. Students begin the workshops by writing an 8-word autobiography, and later start creating longer poems. Randy’s and Jamaal’s goal is to share what they love with many students and also is to get kids to recognize that their words have power and meaning

What inspired Randy and Jamaal to become poets is the fact that they both love mixing the things they love in life together. Randy loves working in film as a director and as an editor, and he also loves poetry and travelling.

“Opening minds to new possibilities is a fun thing to do,” said Randy. “When this opened up as an opportunity, I jumped on it.”

Jamal was inspired to merge the two ideas of becoming a teacher and an artist.

After one workshop, many students talked about how much they enjoyed working with Randy and Jamaal. Alex B. a 10th-grade student, said, “This workshop is a great opportunity for students to express their own opinion and creativity. It gives a chance to explore things you haven’t done before.”

Randy and Jamaal working with 10th- and 11-grade English students on Thursday. (Photo by Ms. McComb)

Another student from 10th grade said that she enjoyed creating a poem that had no structure to it, and that the workshops were very liberating and engaging.

Randy and Jamaal enjoyed their visit in Warsaw.. They both said, ‘Warsaw is a beautiful, quiet and clean city. It’s a little colder than Ottawa, so we are a bit surprised. Warsaw seems to be very organized, the streets are wide, there’s rooms for bikes, people. The people are nice, we’ve had help in the streets. The people are friendly, they seem a little quiet, we’d say they’re a bit conservative.”

On Friday from 4:00 to 5:00, Randy and Jamaal will host a final performance of work created this week. The performance will take place in the theatre and is open to everyone in the ASW community.

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