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Jul 29, 2011

Youth Voices Team gets inspired by Nuyorican Poet, Willie Perdomo

Youth Voices has embarked on a yearlong program that seeks to inspire youths to write, speak, and complete video productions. The program funded by a U.S. State Department grant, has been nurturing the minds of its participants while keeping them from the city streets. This afternoon, the youths were treated to an internationally recognized and accomplished poet. Prize winning Nuyorican poet and children’s book author, Willie Perdomo has been featured on PBS’ The United States of Poetry and HBO’s Def Poetry.  The author of Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, Postcards of El Barrio, and Smoking Lovely is the recipient of the PEN American Center Beyond Margins Award, the Coretta Scott King Honors, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and recently a Woolrich Fellow in Creative Writing at Columbia University.  Today Perdomo inspired the young at heart at the Mexican Cultural Institute as he added Belize Youth Voices Poet to his repertoire. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The lyrical talent of the Puerto Rican Poet, Willie Perdomo, is recognized worldwide. And for the next few days, he will be teaching young Belizean writers the secret to putting their experiences and ideas into words. Perdomo is one of several special guests at the Youth Voices summer program.

Willie Perdomo, Poet/Author

Willie Perdomo

“It widens my experience as a human being in the world. I’ve done this before; I’ve been to other countries, I’ve been to other islands, I’ve been to other blocks, I’ve been to other communities and more often than not, everyone wants to be more in touch with their humanity and this is what these kind of workshops do for me as a facilitator and as a writer as well.”

Nyasha Laing, Executive Director, Global Parish Project

“We have him here doing a workshop with the youth who are part of Youth Voices as well as a part of the summer program and then we’re gonna be taking him to Dangriga to do a workshop with young people there. It’s gonna be at Jungle Huts tomorrow and then we’re taking them to the George Price Center to do a workshop there with young people in Belmopan.”

During his short visit, Perdomo hopes to help the aspiring spoken word performers and writers to take their skills to another level.

Willie Perdomo

“I think to get them into a space where they start to think about: 1.) the objectives as writers, 2.) what drives them to be passionate about writing and 3.) to kind of create a form of discipline in their craft where they understand that writing is not so much inspiration, as much as it is practice.  The best advice I think I can give any young writer, wherever they’re from is to read as much as you can because what you find is that writing becomes a form of communication right and you’re communicating with everything you read or the films that you see or your favorite song. So it’s not always about what you’re feeling or experiencing, but communicating with someone else.”

Nyasha Laing

Nyasha Laing

“I think all the people we’ve had the opportunity to bring into the country bring experiences, not only their poetry; in terms of life experiences and what poetry has done for them. They use it as a lens for storytelling, as a lens for cross cultural exchange, travelling around the world and just improving their lives. And that’s the message that we’re trying to bring to the young people, that poetry is something that comes from you and you’re experience and if you stay true then it can open doors.”

Another aspect of the youth Voices summer program that brings new life to poetry ended today and facilitator, Khalil Jacobs Fantauzzi, is inviting the public to see what the youths have created.

Khalil Jacobs Fantauzzi

Khalil Jacobs Fantauzzi, Workshop Facilitator

“Today is the culmination after two weeks of working with young people here in Belize and we’ve thought them how to use photography and videography and incorporating it into their poems, brining their poems to life in a new way. So on Tuesday at two o’clock here at the Mexican Embassy we’re gonna be having a free screening of our first film, which is about hip hop in Cuba and we’re gonna be presenting the student’s work that they’ve completed in this two week process.”

The workshops and exhibits are all free of cost to participants and the general public, but donations are welcomed. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

Following today’s workshop, Youth Voices also held an hour long spoken word exhibit at the Mexican Institute.

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