The Santa Fe Indian School’s Spoken Word Club has become a notorious name in the world of slam poetry. The club has participated in events on the local, state, national and international levels and has been the recipient of numerous awards. Members of the club have also been featured on the HBO series entitled, Russell Simmon’s Presents: Brave New Voices.
Established eight years ago, the club remains a safe space for native youth to creatively express their feelings on a range of issues including their personal lives and culture. A common theme seen throughout the poems is the frustration the teens feel due to their loss of language. In a poem entitled, Letter to Grandpa, Nolan Eskeets describes the emotional struggle confronted by being unable to understand the language of his grandfather… his own language. Many of the students write in English and often integrate what they know of their native languages into their poems. Spoken word provides an outlet to navigate the intersection of both modern and traditional identities and connects students to the oral tradition of their culture.
Here are two different poems being performed by the students of the Santa fe Indian School Spoken Word Club. The first link is a video performance and the second is an audio recording of a different performance.
The Spoken Word Club at SFIS provides an excellent model for engaging youth in critical and creative thinking regarding culture, language, and history. Consider establishing a club in your own community and relish in the beautiful art, growth and inspiration that results.