Some poets find workshops to be a positive experience and some find it to be negative but which ever category you choose to fall under it is still an experience. For me, I fine workshops to be an incredible tool to help the poet improve their craft. Another set of eyes or ears will help you to find that place in the poem you may not see as the writer. This summer, Bronx poet Advocate of Words will be teaching a summer intensive workshop called "The Summer of Wordz" (to sign up http://www.advocateofwordz.com/summer/).
We talk to Advocate of Wordz to find out a little more about this great workshop and how you can be a part of it.
Thomas: So can you tell us a little about your aesthetic and how that will translate into the workshop?
Advocate: I am rather animated. I don’t half ass, not even for a single line. Deliberate, purposeful and sensational in everything I do. Anyone of any age who has had me as an educator or director knows I’m not the least bit of afraid of shining a light on where they are falling short. What is so appealing about that is when I give out a compliment or I celebrate someone’s success, they know it is sincere. I am not patronizing or coddling them, and only genuine praises resonate within us for a longtime. It is an honest passion, which the participants will feel within the first 5 minutes of the initial class starting on June 29th.
Thomas: I see that the workshop is broken up into 3 sections: writing, performance and rehearsal/business; can you explain why these are so important to the poet?
Advocate: Performance Poetry (or Spoken Word as many refer to it) is an art form which actually encompasses 2 different art forms, Writing and Performing. For a piece to reach its highest potential, it needs both pillars to be severely strong. Whether it be a movie or play or TV show, the foundation is built on the writing. Same with Performance Poetry. Our choice and arrangement of words says a lot about us and the object and subject of our piece. The performance aspect is about being honest with those words. Listeners (whether it be an audience or someone we’re speaking to in a more intimate setting) feel your energy before they begin comprehending your words. If people don’t believe you truly believe what you are saying, they won’t follow you. But in that moment of performing, if you live truthfully under false circumstances, they will follow you off the edge of a cliff.
The rehearsal aspect is less about art and more about dedication. Art can be so unbounded in its process which is great, but as mortal beings trapped by gravity, there are a few anchors we need to keep us level. The arduous work of practice builds up an enormous amount of respect for what you are doing. It is similar to the old adage that what we appreciate the things we paid for with our own money as opposed to receiving it for free. Also, rehearsing forces you to live with your creation in a way that overtime reveals your creation has characteristics even you were unaware of. The business part of it is straight forward, we don’t live in a meritocracy and the objective is to get yourself in front of as many eyes possible and sustain opportunities and TIME (which is huge) to keep strengthening your craft.
Thomas: I see that there will be a theatrical event to accommodate this workshop, can you talk some more on that?
Advocate: The culminating show is a theatrical event. It is to give our participants the full experience of what it is like to writing something, edit it, memorize it, own it, bring it to life through your body, and then put it in an environment that can truly highlight what it is. SHOWMANSHIP is something under-appreciated with many performing poets. This isn't about preparing for open mics. We want this summer to open up the eyes of our participants as to where poetry may live, and hopefully inspire them to eventually create new paths and mediums for poetry for even I to travel down. Plus it gives us the chance to celebrate with the public what we've created. To get a chance to entertain and inspire just may be the apex of celebrating art in my opinion.
Thomas: When you have taken workshops in the past, what have you liked and what have you disliked about them?
Advocate: I've disliked the short amount of time with some I've taken. I’m very intense and excited by this art form and its pillars, so an hour of "work" is almost like a warm-up for me. What I have loved about some workshops I've taken is when they have what I call a "theatrical culture" to them. Where the facilitator isn't trying to be my friend, they are simply someone who has some knowledge to share, has an innate desire to challenge, and their passion is infectious.
Thomas: What is it you want your students to walk away with?
Advocate: That there is no magic to this. That the greats make final products look easy, but it requires a lot of hard work. In that same breath, I want them to see how tangible this is. How important all of this work is, even outside of the art. That art is a vital part of a society’s success for reasons beyond aesthetics. That developing our own voice and being a contributor to the great human experiment and conversation is a mortal duty. One when which fulfilled, allows us to feel self-sufficient and thus live freely.
Again if you want to be a part of this great workshop all info can be found here:
Bio: Advocate of Wordz is a recipient of the 2014 BRIO Award in Spoken Word, a resident artist at Lincoln Center and the Nuyorican Poets Café. He is the co-founder of the annual Bronx Youth Poetry SLAM, a founding member of "El Grito De Poetas, and the producer/director of the spoken word video series, "Director of Wordz". His work has been featured and/or covered by many major publications including PBS, LA Times, Fox News, Univision and El Museo del Barrio’s anthology “Speak Up, Speak Out”. Wordz has toured and lectured at many notable establishments such as Princeton University, Roseland Ballroom (Broadway) and Georgetown University to name a few.