Roaring Fork Youth Poetry Slam returns to Carbondale Friday |

Roaring Fork Youth Poetry Slam returns to Carbondale Friday

A scene from last year's Roaring Fork Valley Youth Poetry Slam at the Third Street Center in Carbondale.
Michael Stevens photo


What: 6th annual Roaring Fork Valley Youth Poetry Slam

Where: Third Street Center, 520 Third Street, Carbondale

When: 6:30 p.m., Friday

Cost: Free

For the last two weeks, area high school and middle school students from Glenwood Springs to Aspen have been working with award-winning poets.

Aspen Words’ poetry-in-schools program, a grassroots movement that began six years ago, reaches over 3,000 students in 16 schools on the Western Slope.

“It’s really about unifying and amplifying youth voices in the valley. Poetry is a really valuable tool for expressing themselves,” Program Coordinator Ellie Scott said.

This year, students worked with poets and teaching artists Myrlin Hepworth, Mercedez Holtry, Toluwanimi Obiwole and Meta Sarmiento.

Sarmiento, a first-year teaching artist who hails from Denver and is a National Poetry Slam semifinalist and award-winning rapper, said it has been an exciting experience working with the students.

“Our entire program has been focused on helping students find their voice, and helping them become brave enough to tell their stories,” Sarmiento said.

Each year the program culminates with the Roaring Fork Valley Youth Poetry Slam at the Third Street Center in Carbondale.

The event gives students a chance to share experiences with one another, realizing people from each town have more in common than they thought.

“First and foremost, it is important for creative self expression, primarily expressing those truths, but it is also really valuable for empathy and community building,” Scott added.

About 20 to 25 valley students will get the chance to take the stage 6:30 p.m. Friday in Carbondale.

Students interested in performing in the slam should arrive at the Third Street Center by 3 p.m. for registration, workshop and rehearsal.

The slam will give those select few the chance to finally get on a big stage and experience how it feels to share their stories with a large audience, Sarmiento said.

“A lot of young people don’t really have permission to be honest and uncensored in their everyday lives, and this poetry slam is going to give them this opportunity,” Sarmiento said. “It’s an opportunity for them to cultivate their voice, and experience on stage.”

Scott said that, for students in the audience and other slammers to hear a peer up on stage saying something true, saying something brave, and saying something that probably resonates with a lot of people in the audience, is really valuable.

Sarmiento and the three other teaching artists will host the two-hour event.

“I’ll be introducing the poets, hyping the crowd,” Sarmiento added. “We’re just really excited that we got to do this, really thankful to work with the schools. We can’t wait to see what the youth poets have on Friday.”

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