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!
2017 TEACHING ARTISTS
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 slam poet, writer, student, mentor, and Chicana feminist from Albuquerque, NM. She has been recognized with multiple local slam titles such as Albuquerque’s 2014 City Slam Champion as well as Albuquerque’s 2015 Women of the World Slam Champion. She earned her degree in Journalism and Mass Communications with a minor in Chicano studies from the University of New Mexico.
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 is a bilingual performance poet, teacher and transdisciplinary artist from Tucson, AZ.. He graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Spanish and worked as a professor of Latin American literature, culture and translation at Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico before devoting himself to his current artistic endeavors. He is the author of five poetry chapbooks, and his recent debut full-length collection is titled Sonoran Strange. www.dirtyverbs.com
Aspen Words’ Youth Poetry Slam Team, FirstWord, meets every Monday at 4pm at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale, CO. It is free to participate and open to all Roaring Fork Valley high school students. Young writers of all experience levels are welcome (we love beginners!), and the focus is on writing and performing mind-blowingly original poetry. Join us! If you have questions, please contact Aspen Words, 970-925-3122.