Joyful Tama Brisbane using her laureate role poetically

Students in the WOW (With Our Words) Youth Poetry Collective expressed themselves along with members of University of the Pacific’s Brubeck Institue jazz musicians May 12 at the Spanos estate in Stockton.
They exercised their creativity to benefit the Stockton Animal Shelter.
Tama Brisbane, co-founder of With Our Words with husband Aaron and hopefully being named to a second year as Stockton’s poet laureate, provides some observations.
WOW poets represent Stockton at the Brave New Voices national tournament July 12-16 in Washington, D.C., and in The Bigger Picture regional tournament June 21-25 in the Bay Area.

Poet laureate-ing: Yes, they rocked it — and the six-foot sophomore (our daughter Miniya) — kinda stole the show. The outgoing Brubeck Institute director (Simon Rowe) is going to recommend that there be an annual collaboration between their musicians and WOW poets.
I think I’m getting another completely life-changing year as poet laureate
But the almighty X-FEST coming to Stockton? That’s some “hallelujah” shouting for me. When I was on the Civil Grand Jury (2007), I had to pound a few tables to get them to open an investigation into the city’s permitting policies and practices vis-a-vis event promoters.
Stockton had the reputation as a seriously hostile environment, particularly to alternative, rap and hip-hop. Mackalot, Middagh Goodwin and Chris Ricci were some (people) I asked to hear testimony from, just to get on record exactly what the challenges were for people trying to contribute some positive alternative arts.
Chris was especially compelling. So it’s “hella” sweet (and ironic) that X-Fest comes to Stockton because he couldn’t work things out with Modesto. Looks like (those in) Stockton took notes and learned.
I hope to talk to him about creating an annual Poetry Pavilion inside X-Fest. It would be a great and totally unique way to showcase Stockton’s commitment to lifting up our literate local/regional voices. Not to mention being a great way to attract national ones.
And bringing it back to the Bigger Picture Project? There is an org here called REACH (http://www.stocktonreach.org/#!about/aboutPage) that has already contacted us about incorporating our Bigger Picture Project poems into their programming and events.
I’m so excited about all the opportunities ahead for WOW voices to take part in important conversations.

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