You don’t have to wait until the next Dodge Festival to hear great poetry in Newark. This weekend, NJPAC’s Alternate Routes Hip Hop Festival is hosting more than twenty Hip Hop artists in a variety of disciplines, including break-dancing, DJing, poetry, spoken word and film. The festival, which is bi-annual, began in 2001 and is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Events run through Saturday, April 9 in the Art Center’s Chase Room. Go to www.njpachiphop.org to get tickets.
The festival kicked off last night with a Word Jam. Middle and high school students from Burnet Street School, Louise A. Spencer School and Newark Innovation Academy performed poems they wrote in NJPAC’s In-School Residencies, coordinated by the NJPAC Arts Education staff. Tamesha Hawkins, a professional poet and performer who studied in NJPAC’s Arts Training program and Shamsuddin “Sham” Abdul-Hamid, a 2010 NJPAC Women’s Association/Star-Ledger Scholarship recipient emceed the night. Over 60 students attended and 30 student performers shared their poems with the enthusiastic crowd.
Alternate Routes Hip Hop Festival founder and producer, Baraka Sele, believes students, educators, youth and elders will learn that Hip Hop is not always misogynistic, materialistic or violent. “While Hip Hop artists are still rappin’ and beat-boxin’ and b-boyin’, they are also curating art exhibitions, making films and producing theater, as well as becoming authors, cultural critics, institution builders, politicians and social entrepreneurs. We want to showcase all the ways they contribute positively to society.”
Tonight, Newark-born spoken word artist, Taalam Acey, will host a night of spoken word artists from across the country. Acey’s work has been featured on BET, in Essence magazine, at the Sundance Film Festival, and the 2010 Dodge Poetry Festival. Several of the artists who will perform have participated in HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and have appeared or worked with such artists as Amiri Baraka, Dead Prez, Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, and Sonia Sanchez.
Go to the NJPAC Hip Hop website for a full schedule of events and to save your spot at the festival.