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Performing Spoken Word Poetry: Black Girl Magic

Course dates

July 16 to July 29, 2018

Application deadline

May 14, 2018

  • Improve your capacity to write and perform original spoken-word poems under the guidance of renowned, internationally-touring spoken-word poets.
  • Explore how spoken-word poetry can be used as a means of expression and as a tool for social activism.
  • Create safer spaces that prioritize the talents, needs, voices, and visibility of all who wish to foster their passion to create poetry through the lens of "Black Girl Magic" sensitivities, devoid of dominant and hegemonic forms as guiding precepts.
  • Examine the varying ways spoken-word performers create knowledge and engage in social justice work with their artistry.
  • Develop and present five spoken-word performance pieces, one of which will be performed at the final showcase public performance.


Undergraduate: ENGL 420, 3 units
Graduate/post-baccalaureate: ENGL 620, 3 units




Any person with a significant interest in spoken-word creation and performance. This course is designed to be a safe haven for all students interested in art and activism.


  • Submit one to three poems.
  • Submit/upload the materials listed above when you apply online by May 14, 2018.


Professor Dianne Bartlow

Guest Artists

Yazmin Monet Watkins

Yazmin Monet Watkins –

Twitter: @yazminmonetwatkins


Yazmin Monet Watkins is an internationally touring bisexual spoken-word poet and actress from Los Angeles. A Posse Scholar and a graduate of Dickinson College, Yazmin’s work in higher education combines art and activism, providing critical artistic outlets for students to self-advocate, heal, negotiate, and navigate the space that is higher education.

Yazmin is an internationally-touring bisexual poet and actress who was invited to perform in Obama's White House, and has opened for the likes of Angela Davis, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Peggy McIntosh, and Victor Lewis. She is the author of Love Without Limits: The Bi-Laws of Love, and has a forthcoming publication with Not A Cult Press entitled A Vessel Born to Float. Her work has been published in the Huffington Post, AfroPunk, For Harriet, Rebel Muse Magazine, and in the Race and Pedagogy Journal. As an actress, Yazmin has been cast in several feature films, commercials, shorts and multiple new media projects with Buzzfeed, Issa Rae, Russell Simmons, Cracked, Dailymotion, and Black and Sexy TV, garnering more than 7.5 million views on YouTube and online. In her free time, she volunteers with incarcerated youth teaching poetry workshops and serves as a steering committee member of the Los Angeles Bi Task Force and as a general member of Black Lives Matter LA.


Mahogany L. Browne -

Twitter: @mobrowne


Cave Canem, Poets House, and Serenbe Focus alum Mahogany L. Browne is the author of several books, including Redbone (nominated for NAACP Outstanding Literary Works), and Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out Online in 140 Characters or Less, which are recommended by Small Press Distribution and Best Poetry Books of 2010.

Mahogany bridges the gap between lyrical poets and literary emcees. She has toured Germany, Amsterdam, England, Canada, and recently Australia as one-third of the cultural arts exchange project Global Poetics. Her journalism work has been published in magazines Uptown, KING, XXL, The Source, Canada’s The Word, and UK’s MOBO. Her poetry has been published in literary journals Pluck, Manhattanville Review, Muzzle, Union Station Mag, Literary Bohemian, Bestiary, Joint, and The Feminist Wire. She is the co-editor of forthcoming anthology, The Break Beat Poets: Black Girl Magic and chapbook collection Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books). She is an Urban Word NYC Artistic Director (as seen on HBO’s Brave New Voices), founder of Women Writers of Color Reading Room, director of BLM@Pratt Programming, and she facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. Mahogany is also the publisher of Penmanship Books and the Nuyorican Poets Café Friday Night Slam curator. She is a recent graduate from Pratt Institute MFA Writing & Activism program.

Mahogany's new book, Black Girl Magic, was just released and is available at Barnes & Noble.

Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo -

Twitter: @acevedowrites


Elizabeth Acevedo was born and raised in New York City and her poetry is infused with Dominican Bolero and her beloved city’s tough grit. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland.

With more than 12 years of performance experience, Elizabeth has been a featured performer on BET and Mun2, and has also delivered several TED Talks. She has graced stages nationally and internationally, including renowned venues such as Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, South Africa’s State Theatre, the Bozar in Brussels, and the National Library of Kosovo. She is also well-known for poetry videos, which have gone viral and been picked up by PBS, Latina Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Upworthy. Elizabeth is a National Slam Champion, Beltway Grand Slam Champion, and the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam representative for Washington, DC, where she lives and works. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Puerto Del Sol, Callaloo, Poet Lore, The Notre Dame Review, and others. She is a Cave Canem Fellow, Cantomundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer's Workshop. She is the author of the chapbook, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and the forthcoming novel, The Poet X  (HarperCollins, 2018).

Funmilola Fagbamila

Funmilola Fagbamila -

Twitter: @funmi_lola


Funmilola Fagbamila is a Nigerian American scholar, activist, playwright and artist. She earned her BA in Sociology and Pan African Studies from Cal State Los Angeles in 2013. Having recently completed her graduate program at UCLA in Black Studies, Funmilola now serves as a professor of Pan African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles.

As an original member of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, she has been organizing with BLM since its inception in 2013. While Funmilola's artistry is multifaceted, including spoken word and hip hop, her current project, entitled The Intersection, is a stage play on the complexities of black identity, black radicalism, and what she has coined the "black liberation ego." 
In 2015, Funmilola was honored by the U.S. Congress and the Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance for her commendable activist scholarship, service, and struggle. In 2017, Funmilola was awarded the Inaugural Activist-in-Residence position at the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. She frequently sits on community panels regarding police brutality, criminal justice and overall wellness in black communities, most recently presenting at the Annual Legislative Conference for the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC.

Selina Carrera

Selina Carrera -

Twitter: @selinacarrera    


From freestyle cyphers to late-night venues around the world, Selina Carrera's passion and captivating voice leave every crowd yearning for more. She appeared on Season 10 of "The Voice," has sung background vocals for Lauryn Hill, and is an international performing and recording artist who advocates for juvenile justice and LGBTQ awareness worldwide.

The Philadelphia-born artist is continuously experimenting and bending genres, layered with her smooth Sade-meets-TLC vocals. Selina has been mentored by Grammy Award-winning artists and producers, leading her to develop her own unique sound and style not just as a vocalist and artist, but as a creative producer and sound designer across the board.

Jasmine Mans

Jasmine Mans -

Twitter: @poetjasminemans


An author, performer, poet, teacher...yes to all of those titles, but more importantly, Jasmine Mans is an artist who enjoys having various forums to express her thoughts, moods, opinions, and a voice to speak out on behalf of others and the community around her.

Jasmine received her BA in African-American Studies (Black Theory & Literature) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and is the recipient of the Star Ledger – NJPAC; Arts Millennia; and (New York) Knicks Poetry Slam Scholarships and awards. Jasmine began stringing rhymes together as a middle-school student in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. She released her first book, Chalk Outlines of Snow Angels in May 2012. Transcending boundaries, Chalk Outlines includes works addressing issues such as broken relationships, fear, racism, sexuality, death, and the overall human experience. Receiving local and international success, Chalk Outlines has often been described using one word: breathtaking. Her stories are told to evoke the emotional well-being of those who are apprehensive about culture, politics and social stigmas. When she performs, every stanza is delivered with passion and honesty. In 2012, Jasmine was chosen by Glamour Magazine as one of their Top 10 Most Influential Women in College. She has also successfully competed in HBO’s "Russell Simmons Presents Brave New Voices" and "Knicks Poetry Slam" competitions. Whether critiquing Nicki Minaj as a role model or celebrating the presence of a black couple in the White House, she is not afraid to stand and deliver, representing her beliefs. Jasmine has opened for artists such as Goapele, Mos Def and Janelle Monae. Her work has appeared alongside other artists such as NoMalice of Clipse and Pharrell. Her artistry has brought her to theatres and stages, including the Kennedy Center, Broadway's New Amsterdam Theater, the Wisconsin Governor’s Mansion, and the Sundance Film Festival, among others. In 2013, Jasmine released her first multi-media project, "Black Boy Gold," which is critically acclaimed for its highlighting of real and overlooked issues facing black men.

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