In honor of National Poetry Month, BAM presents the 15th Annual “Word. Sound. Power. 2019.,” a powerful and inspiring celebration of spoken word and hip-hop on Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6.

Curated and hosted by acclaimed hip-hop artist Baba Israel and MC and educator Mikal Amin, the showcase will present electrifying performances by spoken word veterans like Grammy-nominated Mumu Fresh, New York poetry legend Caridad De La Luz “La Bruja,” as well as Brooklyn-based poets and activists Timothy DuWhite and Gabriel Ramirez. They will be joined by four vibrant Brooklyn youth poets, Jovannie Syreeta Smith, Tamia McArthur, Jenel Marcelle and Sayquan Wooden.

Grammy-nominated singer and poet Mumu Fresh will headline Power. Sound. Word. 2019. Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader

This year’s performances are inspired by Sankofa, from the Akan-Twi language spoken in Ghana, meaning “look to the past to inform the future.” Set on the stoops of a Brooklyn brownstone, the artists will explore stories of the African diaspora and issues of race, identity, and cultural celebration using the transformative power of hip-hop and spoken word poetry. 

The youth poets, all Brooklyn high schoolers, participated in BAM’s Brooklyn Reads, an education program designed to build students’ literacy through creative writing, poetry analysis and individual performance. And this Friday, they’re excited to share the stage with some of the bests in spoken word. 

New York poetry legend Caridad De La Luz “La Bruja.” Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader

“I am not nervous,” said 15-year-old Jovannie from Flatbush. “I’m excited. I have something to say to the people, and I want to prove it to myself when I do it.” 

Her poem, “A Woman’s Letter to America,” is a personal discussion of colorism, woman empowerment and police brutality, she explained. 

Tamia, a 15-year-old student from Crown Heights, will be sharing her views on racial inequality, the 13th Amendment and the plight of immigrants and DACA recipients under Trump. With her piece titled “Free Is Not Me,” she hopes to give the audience a different perspective on these issues.

“I want to bring awareness to the topics that I cover,” said Tamia. “Not every lens is fit for every person, and everybody has their own way they look at things. But if you are able to see another person’s perspective, that’s what builds your knowledge and understanding of things.” 

“I want people to think about what America really is,” added Jovannie. “We should bring awareness to all these issues that are going on. So we can have a bigger community of people fighting against these issues.“

Mikal Amin, co-host of Word. Sound. Power. and BAM’s education program manager. Photo credit: A. Leonhardt for BK Reader

Word. Sound. Power. features galvanizing performances, inspiring the audience to discover how the political becomes poetic, and vice versa. But it is equally simply an amazing celebration of hip-hop and spoken word as a culturally powerful artform, Mikal Amin said, BAM’s education program manager.

“My hope is that the audience gets to experience how powerful, strong and wide-ranging hip-hop can be, and leaves with a greater and broader understanding of what the culture actually is,” said Amin. “Hip-hop, culturally, is a high art form. The audience will hear poetry and singing while seeing some just amazing dancers and visuals. They’re going to experience theater and performance through the lens of how hip-hop does storytelling.”

BAM’s 15th Annual Word. Sound. Power. 2019. 

When: Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April, 6 | 7:30pm

Where: BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11217

How much: $20. For tickets, go here.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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