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School workshops & assemblies: February 5-16, 2018
5th Annual Roaring Fork Valley Youth Poetry Slam: February 16, 2018
This annual project brings the written and spoken arts alive for middle and high school students across the Roaring Fork Valley. For two weeks in February, performance poets and teaching artists reach over 3,200 students in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt, and Aspen, providing young people with tools for self-expression.
In 2017, Myrlin Hepworth, Logan Phillips, and Mercedez Holtry were joined by Denver’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Toluwanimi Obiwole while they led workshops and asemblies in Roaring Fork Valley Schools from February 6-17th. The 4th Annual Youth Poetry Slam took place on Friday, February 17th at the Third Street Center in Carbondale, and featured students from across the Roaring Fork Valley performing their original poetry. Thank you to everyone who came to the Slam and for the community’s support of these young poets!
Myrlin Hepworth is a poet, emcee and teaching artist from Phoeniz, AZ. He is the co-founder of the Arizona State University (ASU) Humanities initiative, Phonetic Spit. In 2010, he became the first undergraduate teaching artist for the Young Writers Program at ASU, where he received his degree in English in 2011. He has competed on three National Poetry Slam teams and co-founded and coached the Phoenix youth team to consecutive appearances at the Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam. He is the author of a collection of poems, From the Rooftops, and in July of 2013 released his first hip-hop mixtape, The Funky Autopsy. www.myrlindo.com
Mercedez Holtry is a poet, writer, mentor, and Xicana feminist who focuses on bringing out her roots, experiences and lessons learned through her poetry in hopes that they embrace her people and other artists around her. She has represented ABQ on multiple final and semi final stages for national poetry events. She placed 3rd out of 72 for best woman poet for the year of 2015 and holds multiple Albuquerque Slam Championships. She is a National Poetry Slam Group Piece Champion (2016), the winner of Modesto’s “ILL List Slam” in California (2017), and was featured in Mexico City’s “Diverso” Poetry Festival embracing Mexican voices through poetry (2017). She has worked with youth in poetry workshops in multiple cities around the country including Aspen Words’ “Poetry in the Schools” project since 2015. Mercedez is not only a poet but an outreach coordinator for the youth in Albuquerque in which she organizes workshops and poetry events for the youth to participate in. Since graduating from the University of New Mexico with her bachelors in Chicano Studies and Journalism, she continues to host a monthly poetry reading for UNM called “Lobo Slam”. She is passionate about spoken word and aspires to continually learn all she can about her art through working, slamming and organizing for her community.
Toluwanimi Oluwafunmilayo Obiwole is a Nigerian-born, Colorado-raised poet. She is currently an undergrad studying Ethnic Studies at CU Boulder. She was a member of the 2013-2014 Minor Disturbance youth poetry team as well as a Brave New Voices international poetry festival champion and finalist. In 2015 she was announced Denver’s inaugural Youth Poet Laureate. For the 2015 and 2016 slam season she was a member of SLAM NUBA, and is co-director of the Slam Nuba organization. She was a TEDx Mile High speaker and is the author of two chapbooks: OMI EBI MI, and How to Become a Lightning Storm. She writes, hoping to cultivate her own black girl magic while creating space and a platform for people who have yet to realize that their voices are necessary. You can catch her in Boulder, CO making tea and fighting the power.
Logan Phillips works to create new opportunities for the intersection of poetry and social justice in wider society. As a bilingual poet, performance artist and DJ he tours his art throughout the US, Latin America and beyond. Born and raised in Cochise County, Arizona to a family of Irish-Slavic ancestry, Phillips lived in and around Mexico City 2006-2011, where he contributed to organizing and hosting the country’s first regular poetry slam series. He the author of the full-length book of poems Sonoran Strange, (West End Press, Albuquerque, 2015), named a “Top Pick” for Southwest Book of the Year by the region’s librarians. Working under the alias DJ Dirtyverbs, Phillips has been a resident DJ at Tucson’s historic Hotel Congress since 2012 and is organizer and host of El Tambó (“Best Danceparty,” Tucson Weekly). A seasoned arts educator, Phillips also co-directs the youth-centered arts and social justice organization Spoken Futures, Inc., whose programs include the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam and La Pilita Cultural Center in Tucson’s Barrio Viejo.