Kids Spoken Word offers outlet for young poets, writers

Converge Gallery will pass the microphone to area youth next month with its first Kids Spoken Word night, beginning at 7 p.m. April 11. The event will provide an opportunity for local children and young adults who want to share their writings with an audience.

“In Williamsport, the artsy kids don’t have a lot of outlets,” Tristen Lee, the event’s emcee, said. “I want them to be able to come and voice their opinions and nourish their talents that are blooming and blossoming.”

Lee said the event is targeted toward children in kindergarten through sixth grade, although the audience is open to anyone who wants to hear what these writers have to say.

“Adults are more than welcome to come and not only the parents … the more the merrier,” he said.

He added that if the event is successful, he would like to make Kids Spoken Word a regular occurrence at the gallery.

John Yogodzinski, assistant director of the gallery, said the idea was inspired by 8-year-old Violet Bell, who wanted to participate in Spoken Word several months ago. Violet is the daughter of local artist Amy Abbatoir.

“Amy is one of our artists, and I think she was working on a project here and the kids were still around and we were having Spoken Word that night,” Yogodzinski said.

When Violet heard about Spoken Word, she decided to write a poem and read it for the audience.

“Everyone really enjoyed it,” Yogodzinski said.

Violet said in an email interview, “I’ve been interested in poetry for a year or two. I like poems by Robert Lewis Stevenson.” She said she felt “excited a little bit” about the opportunity to read a poem in front of the Spoken Word group. She said a Spoken Word event for kids is a great idea “because it helps kids get inspired.”

Lee said he looks forward to see the way the atmosphere of Spoken Word will change with its focus on children.

“I’m anxious to see how their energy brings a whole new atmosphere to the gallery,” he said. “I just really want to hear what they have to say.”

Spoken Word has evolved over the past two-and-a-half years since its inception, and has come to provide an outlet for poets and writers of all kinds.

“We kind of just wanted to give people a chance to share their art, and realized there wasn’t really a place for people to do poetry,” Yogodzinski said of the program’s inception. “Most of the bars do open mic (nights), but it’s mostly for musicians. We felt there was a need there.”

In addition to the folks who read poetry and other writings, Yogodzinski said Spoken Word also has hosted a stand-up comedian, a musician playing acoustic guitar and a rapper who performed a capella.

“It’s kind of like a potluck. You never know what you’re going to see or what’s going to happen,” he said.

Those who would like to participate in the Kids Spoken Word should head to the gallery between 6:30 and 7 p.m. to join the running list of those who will read that evening. Yogodzinski emphasized the laidback atmosphere of the event and said this is the perfect chance for someone who has never before shared his or her writings to give it a shot.

“The Spoken Word community is a small, tight-knit community that’s really supportive of everyone,” he said.

Lee said while children may be nervous to share, he hopes they will embrace the challenge.

“It is very scary before you get on (stage) and do anything, but … come in with an open mind and an open heart. Everybody knows that when we come to Spoken Word that we’re there for the open forum. Everyone has their moment to be in the spotlight and speak and stand out. They don’t need to be nervous. Everyone’s going to love everything that they put out there and do. Everyone’s going to get a warm reception.”

He added, “It’s definitely going to be a very friendly atmosphere and everybody’s going to be there to enjoy it, have fun and hear what they have to say.”

For more information, contact Converge Gallery at 570-435-7080 or visit