PTBi Hosts Spoken Word Workshop

Workshop Participants

Maud Alcorn facilitating workshop

On November 2nd, PTBi hosted a spoken word workshop for advocates of color. Participants learned how to use spoken word and poetry to dig deep into their feelings and thoughts about what drives their birth justice work and how their communities are impacted.

The workshop was led by spoken word master teachers, Maud Alcorn and Tayleur Crenshaw, founders of Gold Beams, which hosts an open-mic for Black creatives every Second Monday in Oakland. Workshop participants had the opportunity to perform their pieces they created at the November 15th open-mic event which celebrated the launch of the Voices for Birth Justice campaign and honored World Prematurity Day.

Poetry Cheat Sheet by Maud Alcorn

  • Breathe: Before you think about the topic, the stanzas, the emotion you want to evoke, take a deep breath. Center yourself. Writing, in any format, can be emotionally tasking, so it’s important to start from a calm and centered place.
  • What are you feeling?: Was this morning stressful for you? Have you been dealing with a certain emotion? What emotion does this topic/space/environment stir up?
  • What would you like to hear right now?: When I write, I write for myself. What are the things I need or want to hear? What would relate to me in this moment? Writing from where you are is easy, but envisioning and writing from the place you want to be, is healing.
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself: Whether you’ve been writing for years, or this is your first time ever, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Let whatever flows, flow. Whatever you write down, was meant to be written. There are no mistakes.
  • It doesn’t have to rhyme: I repeat, it doesn’t have to rhyme. When you force yourself to keep up with a rhyming style, you limit where your words can go. Poetry has many forms, and if you feel you would like yours to rhyme, feel free, but don’t feel the need to force it.
  • What you have to say has value: Whatever you chose to write is valuable and important. There or no such thing as unneeded or unimportant stories. Your story is your own, and that’s what makes it valuable.