Now Hear This!
NOW HEAR THIS! presents is proud to present the release of Sentence: A Collection of Words and Lyrics from Young Offenders.
A fusion of poetry, songs and writings, Sentence is the result of an exciting one-year project to connect professional artists with youth in the justice system to write creatively about their experience.
Join us for a night of music, poetry and positive vibes. Performers include workshop facilitators Progress, J Wyze, Spin and Jaydahmann, as well as an open stage just for youth!
Show takes place at The Revival, 783 College Street.
Admission is $10 with all proceeds going towards future writing workshops for youth in conflict with the law.
NOW HEAR THIS! is the literacy outreach arm of the Descant Arts & Letters Foundation. The program connects professional authors with community groups, students and aspiring writers in order to promote Canadian literature and encourage self-expression, critical thinking and empowerment through literacy education. NOW HEAR THIS! focuses on educating youth in non-traditional environments such as at-risk youth organizations, community centres, half-way homes and shelters.
NOW HEAR THIS! has been running literary workshops and publication projects for youth since 2005, beginning with its successful writers-in-residence project with the Toronto Catholic District School Board to switching its focus on youth in conflict with the law since 2011. NOW HEAR THIS! has facilitated hundreds of creative writing workshops, and engaged with nearly 100 young offenders this year alone.
NHT! History and Focus
NOW HEAR THIS! was formed in 2005 with the mandate of providing creative writing workshops led by professional authors to youth. Throughout our history we have been particularly focused on encouraging literacy amongst at risk youth. Through our S.W.A.T. (Students Writers and Teachers) we work with the TCDSB (Toronto Catholic District School Board) to bring as many writers as possible into Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods, as defined by the United Way. But it was only with the development of the WRITE ON! program in 2009 that we began reaching youth outside of the TCDSB, bringing one day or week long workshops to community centres and literacy advocacy organizations.
As successful as both S.W.A.T. and WRITE ON! have been, we have not been able to reach youth who are outside the school system: those youth who have fallen through the societal cracks.
Since 2011, NOW HEAR THIS! has entered a new phase of programming with particular focus on youth in conflict with the law. Partnering with Operation Springboard, NOW HEAR THIS! began developing a creative writing workshop program that focuses exclusively on serving incarcerated youth.
Twice a week, professional writers work with young offenders, teaching them writing techniques and encouraging them to share their own stories. From the current project, we have observed that many of the youth in the program have an interest in hip hop with little understanding of how intrinsically poetry is linked to hip hop. Our professional writers help these youth develop an appreciation for literature, particularly poetry, as something that can be relevant.
Incarcerated youth are in a unique situation where they are hidden from the public, have confidentiality rights as minors, but are profiled and discriminated against even after their charges have been cleared or settled. These youth are constantly dealing with police harassment, self-esteem issues, poverty, misconstrued “street dreams” and inadequate support systems.
With hip hop as the backbone of the program, many youth emerge from workshops with original lyrics, stories, letters and poems, equipping them with skills and confidence to improve their situation and take control of their lives.
HEAR/HEAR is a bi-monthly reading series that fuses literature, music, performance and social activism together as a means to celebrate and support young people. This pay-what-you-can event takes place at The Supermarket (268 Augusta Ave) at 6:30pm, featuring our Springboard facilitators Spin el Poeta, Progress, Wasun and Jaydahmann, as well as musicians, poets and writers who are actively engaged in the community, such as Ibi Kaslik, Sheniz Janmohammed, Mahlikah Awe:ri and James from the Songs.
To see photos, videos and podcast of past HEAR/HEAR events, visit http://www.hear-hear.ca/
HEAR/HEAR is made possible by the Toronto Arts Council, Descant Arts & Letters Foundation, tireless devotion from the NOW HEAR THIS! staff and volunteer team and by supporters and individual donors.
NOW HEAR THIS!
50 Baldwin Street
Special Projects Coordinator