One Spark 2015: Poetry Slam joins the event!

April 6, 2015 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The incredibly talented Tonya Smart has been working in Jacksonville's Poetry Scene for more than a decade now, and her Poetry Slam is being featured at this year's One Spark Festival. Find out the details after the jump!

She will search for the more abstract view of things,
She will provide a more colorful society—by painting the town in her visual poetry.

Poem, “Legendary” by Desirae Lee, 19, Jacksonville

Poetry will become part of One Spark this year with an open mic event for youngsters who want to present their spoken word creations.

The Saturday event will be an extension of Jax Youth Poetry, a nonprofit organization specializing in teaching poetry and writing to children ranging in age from 10 to 19.

The founder of JYPS, Tonya Smart, started it as a yearly event 2004. In 2010, JYPS partnered with the Jacksonville school board and public library and now a class is held by Smart every weekend.

“Each participant has the ability to learn and grow both through written word and social communication,” Smart said.

Every Saturday, Smart and her students meet in the public library for a workshop session on creative writing, modern literature, modern poetry, and Slam poetry. At the end of each year, each student compiles a chronological chat book titled “My Life in Line” to present the individual growth and maturity of that student.

One of Smart’s students, Desirae Lee, 19 has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. She began preforming in ninth grade and joined JYPS as a senior in high school. She is currently a journalism student at the University of Florida.

The point of a youth poetry slam is to allow children to gain courage, to let their voices be heard and to translate their feelings to paper. Participating at a slam event can be very intimidating, especially for a young person.

“To understand and to be understood simultaneously, that’s the most sacred emotion I have ever felt,” Lee said. “The only time I experienced this feeling is while performing spoken word and I’ve grown to love it more and more ever since I started my freshman year in high school.”

Currently, One Spark will be holding an Open Mic for these youth poets to share their voices. It will be the first Slam present at One Spark and will be a great opportunity for students to present their poetry chat book.

It will be free and open for all to come and go as they please. The Open Mic will be located at the Main Public Library, 303 N. Laura St. on Saturday from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Anyone is welcome to register for Open Mic, and perform his or her own poem. Full rules and complete reregistration form can be found online at

Due to the large turn-out expected at One Spark, Smart is hoping to have a large audience for her students to perform.

The average audience size of a Slam event ranges from 70 to120 spectators. So far at One Spark, five students are scheduled to perform in Open Mic and about ten students will perform during Slam.

There will be three rounds and five judges. Each participant will be judged on a decimal scale of 0-10. Each participant has a time slot of three minutes and 10 seconds for a grieving period.

In July this year the young poets from Smart’s youth poetry organization will compete in Atlanta Georgia in the global slam competition: Brave New Voices.

JYPS is partnering with Urban Word NYC, a nonprofit based in New York City to compete in a writing contest where the winner for Jacksonville will get his or her poetry book published.

Poetry Slams around the world are bringing young students out of their shell and providing confidence to aspiring poets. Watching a poetry slam can be a moving and personal experience for anyone.

“The community of poets and writers I’ve come to know is what really makes the art special to me,” Lee said. “I’m excited about One Spark because it’s a chance to share and let people know about the poetry movement going on in Jacksonville.”

By Morgan Gonzalez
#IgniteMedia News Agency