Wonderful work being done by Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson in my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. I hope the good word spreads of the work she is doing in our community. If her work inspires you, maybe you can be inspired to work in your community to address this vulnerable population in our society. Contact info for Alex and informational links are below.
Clare L. Martin
Lafayette’s Juvenile Detainees Learn Spoken Word Poetry
Every Friday, students at the Lafayette Parish Juvenile Detention Center in Lafayette, Louisiana gather to study, practice and perform spoken word poetry.
Spoken word students at the JDC face enormous psychological, social, and financial difficulties. Four out of every five residents in Louisiana’s Juvenile Detention Centers are children of color. (Children of color make up 46.5% of Louisiana’s children.) Incarcerated juveniles are disproportionately from impoverished families, and represent our most at-risk and underprivileged children. 24.5% of detained juveniles will experience recidivism within three years.
Teaching detained children is particularly difficult, with a restrictive environment and a continuously changing group of children. But spoken word artist Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson gives these children the tools and opportunity to educate and express themselves artistically. Each week, she teaches a rotating group of kids, from one to ten at a time, ages 11-17, how to convert their fears and frustrations into positive, life-affirming art.
Most recently, a total of thirty students created the group poem wrote, edited, and directed the poem “Eyes of the Sun,” which PoeticSoul then composed and recorded as a spoken-word-and-music video. In April 2016, she presented the video at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival in Washington, DC, where a national audience of poets and activists learned of our children’s efforts, returning videos and notes of encouragement. Through experiences like this, these children get to see the quality of their own hard work. They have the chance to learn that, by transforming their anger and frustration into something positive, they can produce wonderful fruit.
Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson is a UL Student Senior Marketing Major and the founder and manager of Lyrically Inclined, an organization that hosts spoken word events in Lafayette, at places like the Acadiana Center for the Arts, the Festival of Words, Cité des Arts, and Black Café. She encourages the people of Lafayette and Acadiana to take this opportunity to encourage our incarcerated children, and help guide them onto a more creative and fulfilling path. She is available for interviews at firstname.lastname@example.org or (713) 933-4448.
CONTACT: Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson
For more information: Official YouTube performance of “Eyes of the Sun:” https://youtu.be/KF-x-qGSeUg
Poeticsoul reading and discussing “Eyes of the Sun” at Crescent City Books: https://youtu.be/-u0Kdmv66Co
Lyrically Inclined on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lyricallyinclined337/
Lyrically Inclined on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/poeticsoul337/
Split This Rock Poetry Festival: http://www.splitthisrock.org/programs/festival/2016-poetry-festival/panel-roundtable-discussions/#Roundtables
Response to “Eyes of the Sun” from Split This Rock Board Secetary Susan Scheid: https://www.facebook.com/PoeticSoul337/videos/vb.47903650/10101865578642720/
Sources for incarceration rates: Juvenlie detainees, by race: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/8391-youth-residing-in-juvenile-detention-correctional-and-or-residential-facilities-by-race-and-hispanic-origin?loc=20&loct=2#detailed/2/20/false/36/4038,4411,1461,1462,1460,4157,1353/16996,17598
Recidivism statistics: http://ojj.la.gov/ojj/files/file/Demographics/Recidivism%20Website%20July%202013.pdf