Tȟéča Wówapi Káǧa Okȟólakičhiye (TWKO)
Young Writers Society
Tȟéča Wówapi Káǧa Okȟólakičhiye (TWKO) is a writers society is based upon the Youth Speaks program model and developed to re-generate young Native spoken word groups. This program provides youth with a safe space to explore new avenues of literary creativity. Additionally, TWKO provides support for youth to write their own narratives and present their perspectives to the community, their peers, and groups outside their cultural and global demographic norm.
TWKO targets youth, ages 19 and under, across the Pine Ridge Reservation in an effort to encourage Lakota youth to unite to have their voices heard locally and nationally.
Two components are the structure in which Tȟéča Wówapi Káǧa Okȟólakičhiye will build analytical, communication, and interpersonal skills necessary for group collaboration and creating open dialogue with youth from across the nation. These components are the monthly studio session workshops, and the Tȟéča Wópazo Kté: Youth Showcase and Open Mic.
TWKO Studio Session
Tȟéča Wówapi Káǧa Okȟólakičhiye (TWKO) studio is a free youth workshop that provides opportunities, training, and a platform for youth to develop their writing, spoken word performance, and public speaking skills with guidance from mentors and teaching artists. Each studio session is initially facilitated by educators, mentors, and/or community members. TWKO strives to create a safe space for youth participation and group collaboration. These safe spaces enable the studio’s environment to naturally manifest into reciprocal learning forums that are inclusive to youth and adults from all walks of life.
AGES: 19 & under
LOCATION: Location changes each month in order to be inclusive to the partnering districts. Please visit the schedule for more information on the studio and showcase location.
TIME: 12:00 - 3:00
TRANSPORTATION: Groups from around the districts meet up to carpool to the alternating locations. Seating is limited. Please contact Brandie Macdonald for further information about carpool groups, meet up locations, and waiver forms.
Tȟéča Wópazo Kté: Youth Showcase and Open Mic
Tȟéča Wópazo Kté is youth showcase and open mic session for young people to showcase their talents and let their voice be heard in the community. All community members are welcome to attend this program. Please come out and support the youth in a positive manner. Admission is always free, but beverages and light snacks will be available for purchase. This program runs off of donations and your support.
Tȟéča Wópazo Kté is separated into two sections, the showcase and open mic.
The youth will have the opportunity to present their pieces of work to the community without any form of judging. This will take place during the first portion of the program.
This is a competition open to all poets 19 & under (or currently enrolled in high school or younger). Sign up for open mic competition will open as soon as the program begins. If no one signs up for the competition the showcase will continue.
Five judges are selected from the crowd, each judge scores each poem on a scale of 0.0 – 10.0 taking into consideration both content and delivery. We drop the high score and the low score, adding together the middle three, giving each poem a final score from 0.0 – 30.0.
There are three rounds. All poets perform in the first round. The top 4-6 poets advance to the second round, so spit your best work first. We cut to three poets for the final round.
Remember: the point isn’t the points; the point is the poetry!
PRIZES for winners vary from each Tȟéča Wópazo Kté
We believe in creating a safe space that allows for creativity. These rules and policies are in conjunction with nationally acclaimed institutions. All teachers and students must adhere the rules and policies. Any activity against program policies and rules will not be tolerated.
All forms of performances are allowed during the showcase and open mic: traditional poetry, spoken word, written word, music, Hip-hop, and stand-up comedy. Poems can be memorized or performed on page (paper works better than digital). All styles and languages welcome.
- Poems must be poet’s own creation.
- Three minute time limit per poem / performance.
- No music other than what you can make with your mouth / body.
- No props or costumes
- 19 & Under
- No racist, sexist, homophobic, or anti-group language or writings that promote hating groups of people. (This does not mean you cannot write about these subjects but thought must be done about what writing choices can be made to be humane even when speaking about people and things that are despicable to the writer or most of society.)
- If you see a person sitting outside the group, it is everyone’s responsibility to invite the person in to make them feel welcomed and a part of the group. We are all related and will reflect this within our supportive group.
- Writing is how we battle here. Like any good battle, the language should be strategic and help to win the war against willful ignorance.
- There is no censorship at the TWKO. Yes, that means you can drop the f-bomb. No, it doesn’t mean you should. Use your words wisely & for greater impact. Be prepared to defend why you chose the poems word usage and why it best fits the situation. Words have power. Our goal is to teach youth to find other words that have a to express themselves to more eloquently describe their thoughts. No hate speech will be tolerated (i.e. no specific threats or defamation of a person or a group). The TWKO is a safe space.
AGENT SAFE SPACE POLICY:
- Identifies oneself as a person who will not publicly and/or privately degrade another person due to what can be stereotypically be prejudged gender, identity, race, religion and /or ethnicity.
- Reports abuse and/or harassment to someone who will be effective in handling the situation when a witness to or victim of it.
- Becomes conscious of how one’s public and private use of derogatory statements may appear offensive and un-safe to others within in the immediate environment.
- Creates, promotes or supports art/media and institutions committed to eliminating degradation and providing safe spaces for individuals, groups and cultures targeted by oppressive groups, systems, and/or regimes.