Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Jason Taylor Foundation Opens Writing Lab for Inspiring Poets

Athletes work out in the summer months, why not poets? Turns out, they do, too, if they want to step up their writing game.

The Jason Taylor Foundation kicked off its free, weekly poetry workshops today. They call it The Lab, and we saw a mixture of poetry slam veterans and rookies, including a seventh-grader, at today's meeting in Weston.

"I like poetry, I feel it's good to express yourself with words," said Devin Modia, the only middle schooler in the group, and a young man without an ounce of bashfulness in him. "I also like writing and telling stories and I feel like I have a lot of stories to tell."

Run by the Omari Hardwick BluApple Poetry Network, The Lab is like a workout for wordsmiths.

"When school stops and summer's out we continue to write, we want students to continue to write and we try to program that," explained Seth Levit, executive director of the Jason Taylor Foundation.

Taught by BluApple Poetry veterans, The Lab meets every Wednesday.

"I've been to a couple of the labs before and they've always been really helpful not just with poetry but also, just skills that always help as a writer," said Anna Bayuk, a member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School poetry slam team.

"I really want to strengthen up my writing skills," said Rodnesha Dover, a freshman at FIU. "I think that going to these labs is really encouraging me over the summer to stay disciplined and keeping up on a hobby that I have such a great passion for."

Like any other discipline, it takes practice to hone your skills, and these kids are at The Lab to become better poets, with some of them aiming at the world of spoken-word poetry competition, such as the annual Louder Than a Bomb tournament.

"I mean, competition is fun but this is more about them being able to express themselves, let's make 'em better writers and more importantly, what do they have to say?" Levit said. "Are they activists, are they just sharing their stories, so it's an opportunity to do that and I believe it does hone their skills, absolutely."

They go to different schools but they form a bond here. They help each other, they listen to each other, and learn to dig deep into their own emotions.

"And not just express themselves but see the validity in their stories, and become more compassionate and understanding of others and that's what happens when this community is built," Levit said.

They're putting that community of poets together one week at a time, one workshop at a time.

If you're a student interested in attending The Lab, contact the Jason Taylor Foundation.

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