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"Racism pledges allegiance to a flag with 50 bullet holes for stars and prison bars for stripes."

Briana L 8th Grade

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Black + Change Poetry Show & Fundraiser

Thursday June 18th 6pm - 7:15pm
Streamed on FB Live: SPARC Poetry, Berkeley Poetry Slam, and Bay Area Creative

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Public Statement of Support For Black Lives

June 4th 2020

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Screen Slam Youth Poetry Club

Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:00pm - 1:15pm Pacific Time

4th - 9th Grade

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Remote Poetry Curriculum For Teachers

Want easy-to-complete poetry lessons in your remote class? 4th - 8th grade lessons areavailable now!

Try this lesson out today +

For the third year in a row Bay Area Creative is providing service at Upward Bound UC Berkeley through our flagship program SPARC poetry. Students who participate in Upward Bound have worked as hard as can be imagined to earn a spot in the Upward Bound college preparatory program which serves first generation college applicants. Our poetry workshops are guided by the students’ writing in order to be as culturally relevant as possible. Each year these courageous young writers leap beyond their comfort zones in order to expand and grow as scholars, writers and leaders of their generation. This year due to closures we are leading these workshops via zoom and are excited to push this human connective art form into the digital world.


By: Anonymous Upward Bound Student

America is the land that many fled to

The land that many fought for

America’s that one girl that everyone knows

With her loud and joyous laughs and happy celebrations

She doesn’t know who she is

She’s the epitome of freedom

America isn’t who people think she is

America isn’t free

Hell, America is hardly ever herself

America’s not that innocent girl

America is what others make her out to be

But America is made of land and people that were robbed, stolen, and killed.

And more, but I dare not to say it out loud,

For the one nation,

That was indivisible

It will always be divided

by the opinions of the nation

Her past has been paved with the blood of many innocent victims

But America doesn’t want to be that girl that everybody hates

Because of her past

So, she put her mask on

And acts as if nothing has happened

As if her scars are just as invisible as the justice she tries to give for all

Because what does all mean if America can’t even speak for herself?

With her “family” acting as dictators to her life

Don’t do this,

Don’t ignore her

Make friends with her, and especially do speak for those people

Because if she does, she’ll know and be reminded of the people that have paved way for her life

People that have worked so hard to only achieve nothing.

For those people

Bay Area Creative & SPARC Poetry stand with the Black community to hold up the voices of struggle, protest, and unity despite the systemically racist systems that try to silence Black narratives.

In the next two weeks we will be holding an all-Black spoken word showcase where coaches, students, alumni, and staff will perform to raise money for policy change, protester bailouts, and transformative justice programs.

In response to

  • the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and hundreds like them both on and off camera.

  • a police system that shamelessly violates the human rights of African Americans

  • a justice system that does not hold trained officers accountable for their actions

  • a prison system that profits off of the free labor of minorities in post-slavery America

We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society.” - Martin Luther King Jr

As an education organization we will be intentional in our mission to lift black leaders into positions of power. We will continue to place local black poets into schools to mentor our black students. We will always create culturally relevant curriculum, and we will keep striving to make spaces for young voices to challenge today’s norms until the future is without inequity.

The Power of Poetry and Performance

By Jenny Griffin

America SCORES students don’t just write poetry, they perform it with contagious verve and spirit. SCORES poet-athletes showcased their work in energy-packed poetry slams earlier this year in San Francisco and Oakland that brought cheering audiences to their feet. The slams were produced through a collaboration between America SCORES Bay Area and the  Bay Area Creative SPARC Poetry Program. 

Mike Taylor, SPARC’s program director, founded the Bay Area-based organization in 2009 to introduce slam poetry to Bay Area elementary and middle school students. Their goal: to get kids comfortable with public speaking, to boost their creative writing skills, and to help them think critically about the world around them. SPARC brings nationally ranked slam poets to teach kids the art of the poetry slam. It’s performance poetry taken up a notch, and deliberately written for competition. Poets face a panel of judges and are scored on the use of poetic language, facial and body language, and fluency. Slam poetry demands physicality, energy, confidence, and time limits. With only moments to capture an audience, slam poets throw everything they have into the effort. 

For SCORES, bringing SPARC into the mix was a way to not only supercharge poetry slams, but a way to leverage SPARC’s rich network of performing artists. “By collaborating with SPARC, we were able to bring local teaching artists and poets into our SCORES classrooms to inspire and prepare our students for poetry slams in multiple regions,”  says Yuri Morales, SCORES Chief Program Officer. “And they brought incredible talent to the slams, providing an MC, guest poets, DJs, and break dancers.” 

As Taylor explains, the competitive, game aspect of slam poetry is hugely beneficial in teaching poetry to kids. “Often, students initially think of poetry as something out of reach and impossible to understand,” he says. “We show them poetry is fun, and once students think of something as fun, they automatically start learning it. We’ll introduce a game to teach a literary device or writing techniques, and the competition hooks them. We don’t even call them literary devices; we call them a “tricks”, as in, take this trick and see what you can do with it. Students stop thinking about how do I do this? They’re thinking about the rules and how they stay in the game. In the process, they’re learning about wordplay and the manipulation of sound, and all the ways they can make their poetry come to life.  The game-like, competitive approach, brought increased dynamism to the SCORES slams. Leah Morales organized the Oakland slam. “Many of our SCORES staff come from soccer backgrounds, but fewer come from spoken word, performance, and poetry slam communities,” she says.  “Including people who embody that community was crucial to this year’s slams. The competitive aspect and the added incentives heightened the kids’ willingness to really prepare for the event.”  Energized by the success of the 2020 poetry slams, SCORES and SPARC started looking for more ways to collaborate. When COVID-19 struck and schools closed in mid-March, SCORES sprang into action to adapt its poetry and soccer curriculum to meet new demands by going online with targeted lessons for students and families. Recognizing an opportunity within a roadblock, SCORES hired SPARC to help develop its online poetry curriculum at SCORES U, creating lesson plans based on poetic devices, figurative speech, and the more technical aspects of writing poetry. “They’re a nice complement to the more theme-focused lessons we already have in place,” says Morales. But it’s more than that. It’s about making sure the poetry component of SCORES is front and center. "The partnership with SPARC is measurably elevating our poetry program," explains SCORES Executive Director, Colin Schmidt.  "We always get called a soccer program, but the magic is in the poetry and in the way soccer and poetry can come together to stretch and support kids. Poetry gives our students a way to put words to emotions, to find their voice, to make sense of their unique place in the world, and that’s incredibly important, especially right now.”

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