A BIT ABOUT POWER POETRY, ITS CURRENT STATUS AND WHY WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT (NOTE ALL DONATIONS WILL BE MADE TO OUR 501(C)3, THE ODYSSEUS GROUP, AND WILL BE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE, MINUS THE VALUE OF VALUE OF THE "REWARDS" SHOULD YOU ELECT TO RECEIVE THEM)
What happens when you mix cell phones, poetry and young people? You create Power Poetry—The first ever mobile/on-line youth poetry community. It’s a project designed to inspire and assist young people to use their words to change the world.
We've just been invited to present our idea at 'The Good Pitch'--A forum co-created by The Sundance Foundation and BritDoc that places innovative projects in front of committed supporters. It is an extraordinary opportunity and an honor to have been selected. We will be presenting as one of only 8 teams chosen. On Oct. 3rd in San Francisco we will pitch our idea simultaneously to a roundtable of 10 potential ngo/corporate/foundation partners seated on a stage and to an auditorium filled with several hundred interested possible social capital partners.
The challenge we are facing is that there is absolutely no support available for our team of 3 to cover the expenses to fly from NYC to San Francisco and spend the 5 intense days required by 'The Good Pitch' to prepare our presentation. We have gone to all of our possible major supporters and they simply don't have funding for this type of expense: travel, food, lodging. Thus our request is for critically needed travel costs. If we can't get out there to present we will lose a unique chance to raise the significant funding we need to move this project forward. Most importantly we will lose a rare opportunity to help kids change their lives and change the world through their own poetry.
There is much good news associated with our project already. The film itself (See film description below and watch trailer) has been funded by PBS—ITVS, the picture is locked and we are now beginning, with the help of our partner, Dialogue Picture, the finishes: Sound edit, mix, on-line, etc. Our PBS broadcast of the doc is tentatively scheduled for a year from this September.
The Power Poetry project itself has already received significant design and development support from The Fledgling Fund and ITVS. In fact we attended the BAVC (Bay Area Video Collective) Producer's Institute this June where we developed and presented an early version of our concept to our first audience of supporters.
POWER POETRY DESCRIPTION
How do you mix Poetry, Kids, Cell-phones, and Social Activism into a catalytic brew? Building on the themes and momentum of our doc, our 'Good Pitch' presentation project, Power Poetry, will be the first ever digital (online and mobile) youth poetry community. It is designed to not only provide a vibrant new platform for the interactive exchange of youngsters’ poetry but to harness their creative energy and focus it on social activism rather than social-networking.
We will design, build and sustain an online presence and couple it with the intimate connecting power of mobile hand-held devices. Imagine a youngster one morning posting a poem about missing his dad who is locked away in prison. By that afternoon his poem is mounted on the website of one of our NGO partners, NoNewPrisons.org, and a week later he is a paid intern helping them write the literature for their latest campaign. Imagine a sponsored on-line poetry slam featuring poets from around the world helping to raise money for Gulf Relief…Imagine how empowering it can be to use your cell phone to virally share your own writing.
Power Poetry will couple the creative energy of youth, with social causes of their choosing, enabling change through the engine of mobile technology. Literacy and an engaged citizenry are the necessary keys of a vibrant democracy. Power Poetry will offer young people a chance to use their own words to change the world.
Thank you Kickstarter and everyone else for considering us.
DOCUMENTARY FILM DESCRIPTION
“If you don’t learn how to write your own life story, someone else will write it for you”
-- Power Writers’ Motto
To Be Heard, is a film about lives and language on the edge. It is the story of 3 high-school students from the Bronx: Karina, Pearl, and Anthony who find their way into a dangerous poetry workshop. This workshop doesn’t teach ‘roses are red…’ poetry. It is about writing poetry that changes lives.
In 2002, Joe, former high school teacher, Amy, organizer, and Roland, filmmaker, came together as an unlikely team of outsiders to create a unique program—Power Writing. To the world it looked like a harmless poetry class. But as this group of underprivileged, underserved, at-risk high schoolers began pouring their hearts into their leather bound journals, Power Writing became a place where anything could be said.
The kids learned to drill deep into their souls, to question the world. They learned to take risks, to cry without fear, to support one another and to move forward. Anthony wrote about what it meant to have a father in jail and why he himself had been a gang member. Pearl wrote about her self-image and her fear of being trapped in her ghetto. Karina looked at why her mother beat her. They learned to speak powerfully about the inequity of the world they inhabited.
What is at stake for these kids is their very survival. Can they find their own voices? Can they take control of their lives? Will Pearl get into her dream college? Can Anthony win a poetry championship or will he end up in prison? Can Karina break free of her mom? The film paints an intimate portrait of what it means to live in a place where families are shattered, where school is at best, a zone of benign neglect, and where the social fabric has been shredded.
”They give you a ball or a gun and tell you that you can shoot baskets or shoot each other.”
(Now wouldn’t be a bad time to watch our 3-minute film teaser)
Power Poetry naturally grew out of the work we have been doing for the past 5 years producing our documentary, To Be Heard. This ‘new technology’ project answers the question: What do you do once people see your film and fall in love with the idea that poetry can be a way to create literate young people who use their poetry as a transformative tool?
Please help us get to San Francisco at the end of this month.
And thanks again.
- (25 days)