Minnesota Spoken Word Association

Recent Articles

Amiri Baraka dies at age 79

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

In 1964, Amiri Baraka (then going by his given name LeRoi Jones) stood the American Theatre on its ear with the wildly controversial, Obie Award-winning drama Dutchman. He never equaled that success again, but his name and lasting fame had been solidly established, enhanced by the 1967 film version starring Al Freeman, Jr. (Malcolm X, Once Upon A Time…When We Were Colored) and directed by Anthony Harvey (The Lion In Winter, The Glass Menagerie). The story, a rite-of-passage saga for African American males, depicted the explosive self-realization of a young, middle-class man shattering the veneer of social convention to assert his Blackness. Baraka’s career began in the early ’60s among New York City’s bohemian elite most notably with his book Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note and his founding of Totem Press, which published the works of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. One of the most highly-regarded writers and controversial figures of his generation, he is hailed as a primary architect of the historic Black Arts Movement, which — also in the ’60s — saw the emergence of playwright Ed Bullins, poets Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez, and novelists Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed. Continue Reading →

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Shá Cage brings the story of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly to Park Square Theatre

By Dwight Hobbes

Contributing Writer

 

Shá Cage has emerged as one of the Twin Cities’ most powerful proponents for strengthening the image and celebrating the hearts and souls of Black women. The accomplished actor, performance artist and spoken-wordsmith began this initiative in the late ‘90s, co-founding the still regrettably unsung MaMA mOsAiC, Minnesota’s first ensemble of color projecting women’s consciousness. Cage reflects, in an MSR interview of few years back, “Signe Harriday, Jeany Park and I founded [it], which was the beginning of my professional career as one who creates theatre for, by and about women and aimed at employing women behind the scenes.”

These days, lauded by no less a personage than Cornel West as “inspiring and evocative,” there is nothing unsung about anything she does from projecting consciousness to heading up the internationally renowned Minnesota Spoken Word Association with husband e.g. bailey, a venerated artist in his own right; to acting at prestigious venues like Mixed Blood Theatre, Intermedia Arts and, currently, Park Square, where she continues her commitment in the cast of Tazewell Thompson’s Mary T. & Lizzy K.

Mary T. & Lizzy K. looks at the friendship between Abraham Lincoln’s wife and her seamstress, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly, a freed slave who, it turns out, did a great deal more in life than put pretty clothes on Mary Todd Lincoln. Shá Cage plays Elizabeth Keckly. Asked what she finds most rewarding about portraying Keckly, she says, “I appreciate that this plays makes room for [her] story to be told. Continue Reading →

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Local youth join international poets to hone Brave New Voices

 
Tish Jones cultivates next generation of MN spoken word artists
 

 

By Jamal Denman

Contributing Writer

 

Almost every practitioner of creative art, regardless of the discipline, will be quick to point out that they are motivated to do what they do for very personal reasons. One’s affinity for a particular art form is often connected to at least one emotional, enlightening, and/or life-changing experience. This is especially true for those who are into poetry and spoken word, art forms that give a voice and a medium of expression to many who feel that they otherwise would not be heard. These aspects of spoken word and poetry are what attracted artist and educator Tish Jones. They are what motivate her to create spaces for people — youth in particular — to discover the art of spoken word, as well as to develop and hone their skills and have opportunities to perform their work. Continue Reading →

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