Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival offers creativity and celebration for all ages

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by Chamidae Ford


September 3 marks the start of the first Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival. The four-day event represents a multigenerational representation of art – from poetry and dance to music and visual arts. The festival allows participants to go beyond observation by offering workshops for them to get involved.

The free event, located in the outdoor pavilion of the Rainier Beach Community Center, is hosted by Monique Franklin (Verbal Oasis). The festival is supported by the Seattle Park District and Created Commons, a program of the Seattle Arts and Culture Bureau.

“I’ve been playing Seattle for over 15 years now, but in the process of being a performance artist, I also produced shows during that time. And I produce shows from kids to adults with a special focus on bringing together a generational, multi-genre community of black artists, ”Franklin said. “So in some ways you could say that this festival has been in the works for about 15 years.”

The Muezz Poetry Show kicks off on September 3 and runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Each evening, a different lineup of local poets and performers will feature Seattle municipal poet Jourdan Imani Keith, Amber Flame, Robert Lashley and many more. There will also be an open mic portion of each evening, with a pre-show writing workshop to allow attendees to create something to share.

“There is the invitation to engage in art. So when [people] come, we will have art activities that they can participate in, including being part of the show. … ”Franklin said. “What they can expect is a warm welcome, great music, some of Seattle’s best artists in painting, dance and spoken poetry.”

Creating a multigenerational festival was very important to Franklin. This is why on September 5 and 6, the open microphone of the Inspired Child from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. will encourage children from 2 to 12 years old to take the stage.

“Young people will be featured at these events to give them the opportunity to create their resumes, perform and prepare their own performances for an audience,” Franklin said.

This weekend is not just for playing, but for discussing the power of speech, art and community. Franklin challenges those in attendance to come with an open mind and be willing to participate.

“I think [the festival] is going to be an experience, ”Franklin said. “I would like people to open up to this experience and come away inspired. I think art heals and art is also transformative and it allows us to learn from others. And so I think being engaged in a community where everyone participates is really a compromise, whether the audience chooses to be a part of an open mic show or if they just choose to give that energy and attention. to the artist who is on stage, they are part of it. I think people can be expected to feel.

Events like these are also a cost effective way to explore different artistic avenues before getting involved in them deeply. Northwest Tap Connection’s Cipher Goings will teach free tennis shoe tap lessons. There will be writing workshops and painting sessions, allowing families to explore if they are truly interested in pursuing an artistic path.

“It gives visibility for families and individuals to say, wow, I really liked that. I actually want to invest in this now, ”Franklin said. “Exposing people to art gives them the opportunity to activate the artist who I think is in all of us and find the path that suits them best. “

The festival represents an opportunity to hang out with your family and connect with your community through art. The weekend offers a wide range of artists from different disciplines and generations who express themselves.

“Being able to celebrate, share and keep an open mind provides an opportunity to truly share your experiences with other people and for other people to hear what is going on in the hearts and minds of members. of their community, ”Franklin said. “Activate these [public] spaces is critical, especially at this time.

Entrance to the festival is free, but there will be capacity limitations to allow social distancing. You can reserve a seat by going online and claiming a ticket to the Muezz Poetry Show and Inspired Child Open Mic before the event. Masks are mandatory for admission and participants are requested to wear them for the duration of the event. Temperature checks and contact tracing will also be carried out at the entrance.

Community partners for this event are Inspired Child Studios, Northwest Tap Connection, Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas, Seattle Filmmakers of the African Diaspora, Abstract Media, ONYX Fine Arts Collective and African-American Writers’ Alliance.


Ford of Chamidae is a recent graduate in journalism from the University of Washington. Born and raised in West Washington, she is passionate about giving voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine and Capitol Hill Seattle. Join her on IG / Twitter: @chamidaeford.

?? Featured Image: Photo courtesy of the Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival.

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