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Feb 5, 2014

Review of Spoken Word Workshop with Wakefield

Spoken Word Workshop with Wakefield Brewster, hosted by LimeLighter

Review by Caritas Longman


            Wakefield Brewster’s poetry workshop on February 1st, hosted by LimeLighter, was an interesting and effective learning experience for both newcomers to spoken word and more experienced poets. Brewster’s views on creativity, focus, and the social importance of the arts were fascinating and inspiring, encouraging artists to value their work and to be honest in their self-expression.

            During the workshop, Brewster recounted his own difficulties in school, as a result of his incredible energy and inability to sit still – during this event, he spoke while on his feet, moving around the room and gesturing with his hands – and how, through poetry, he has come to view these traits not as obstacles but as strengths, an enthusiasm he is able to focus when given the opportunity to share what he feels passionate about. Wakefield Brewster’s message is simple: be true to yourself, and do what you love. “Don’t be part of the flock if you’ve got a passion,” he told the intensely-listening group of aspiring writers and artists. “Art changes lives. Art changes everything.” He spoke of how poetry is a powerful means of forging connection between people, enabling them to share and work through difficulties that could otherwise be isolating. Rather than ignoring pain or sadness, poetry allows us to reveal humanity and vulnerability, to openly express what makes us human and let others know they are not alone. Brewster rejects the notion of any “right” way to go about creating poetry, as well as any rigid definition of spoken word, instead encouraging speakers to find their own voice and to speak honestly. Brewster teaches that every voice is valuable and every experience important, emphasizing the importance of living consciously: “there is an art in everything if you make it so.”

            Despite his energetic nature, Brewster is intensely focused on his art, and taught listeners some of the techniques he uses in order to focus this energy. These techniques, such as stream-of-consciousness lists, meditation, and generating synonyms and antonyms, are helpful not only to artists with attention problems, but to anyone who may find their creativity obstructed by the stress and eventfulness of daily life. After doing these exercises, those who attended the workshop commented on feeling more alert and aware of their surroundings.

            Brewster is a fascinating and inspiring speaker. Speaking of his teaching experience, he recounted how, through poetry, even the most quiet students often had powerful truths to share, and those with short attention spans were able to focus, presented with a medium in which they were free to communicate what they felt strongly about. Brewster promotes a refreshing view of poetry as not simply the property of elite academics, but as a tool of communication for anyone willing to work hard and speak openly. Brewster spoke with both passion and compassion, and listeners were left with a sense of hope, inspiration, and some of Brewster’s own powerful enthusiasm.