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Michael Cirelli - Blasting the Canon - MRA 2011
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Michael Cirelli - Blasting the Canon - MRA 2011


MRA 2011 Presentation by Michael Cirelli, Executive Director, Urban Word NYC (http://www.urbanwordnyc.org/uwnyc/)

MRA 2011 Presentation by Michael Cirelli, Executive Director, Urban Word NYC (http://www.urbanwordnyc.org/uwnyc/)

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  • 1. BLASTING THE CANON: Spoken Word & Hip-Hop Poetics in the Classroom
    R.A.P. (16 Bars)
    R: Brightening
    A: Light bulb
    R: Recycle
    A: Paper
    R: Later
    A: Lesson Plans
    R: South of France
    A: Destination
    R: Hesitation
    A: Stop
    R: Plot
    A: Literacy
    R: With urgency
    A: Immediate
    R: Reading it
  • 2. Urban Word NYCwww.urbanwordnyc.orgMissionUrban Word NYC champions the voices of New York City youth by providing platforms for critical literacy, youth development and leadership through free and uncensored writing, college prep and performance opportunities.VisionUrban Word NYC is the central hub for youth voice, identity and critical literacy in New York City and is the national leader in youth literary arts and youth development programs.
  • 3. Critical Literacy:Critical literacy encourages readers to actively analyze texts and takes a critical or questioning approach towards building literacy. For Urban Word, critical literacy also ignites response and action.
    We call it BIG LITERACY
    What is literacy?
    lit·er·a·cy  n.1. The condition or quality of being literate, especially the ability to read and write.
    2. The condition or quality of being knowledgeable in a particular subject or field: cultural literacy; computer literacy.
    BIG LITERACY extends beyond reading & writing to also engage knowledge of:
    SELF (I AM)
    Society & Beyond (IMAGINATION)
    “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” –Albert Einstein
  • 4. Youth Development and Youth Literacy through Creative Writing, Poetry, Spoken Word, Hip-Hop and College Prep
    Success through Service
  • 5. Why Poetry?
    Poetry transcends cultural, racial & socio-economic boundaries.
    It informs, addresses and promotes identification of: self (poet), community (where the poet is from & represents), and beyond (national, socio-political). The “I Am” poem and the “I Am From” poem are two of the most popular writing exercises amongst educators.
    It is not only a literacy tool, but also a teaching tool for history, current events and popular culture. Poetry is one of the oldest forms of literature in existence, starting with the African griot/bard.
    I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
    And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you…
    I am large, I contain multitudes.
    –Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
  • 6. Why Spoken Word?
    Spoken word strengthens public speaking skills and boosts self-confidence.
    It empowers young people to claim and share their stories.
    With the popularity of poetry slams and television shows like HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and Brave New Voices, it inspires young people to discover and nourish their own unique voices.
    I be one with rain and stars and things with dancing feet
    and watermelon rings, I brings the sunshine and the moon,
    and the wind blows my tune. Meanwhile I spoon powdered
    drumbeats into plastic bags, selling kilos of kintae skag,
    taking drags off of collards and cornbread, freebasing
    through saxophones and flutes like mad.
    –Saul Williams, Amethyst Rocks
    Free Writing Programs
    Manhattan 4x/week year-round
    Brooklyn 3x/week year-round
    Creatively College Bound Program
    Youth Poet Laureate Program
    NY Knicks Writing Intensives
    Summer Institute for Social Justice & Applied Poetics
    Free Performance Opportunities
    Annual NYC Teen Poetry Slam culminating at the Apollo Theater
    NY Knicks Poetry Slam culminating on Broadway
    Voter Poet Slam
    Summer Slam
    Dance Theater Workshop Intensives
    Free College Prep & College Bound Resources
    Annual College Fair
    Creatively College Bound
    $350,000 in scholarships
    Full tuition scholarships
    Youth Leadership Opportunities
    Word Wide Youth Leadership Board
    Town Hall Meetings
    Youth Ambassadors
    Youth Mentorship
    Free Resources for Teachers & Educators
    Preemptive Education Conference at NYU
    Hip-Hop in the Heartland at UW-Madison
  • 8. WHY SPOKEN WORD REVISITED: Pedagogy of the Oppressed & the Pedagogy of Youth(Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere, 1970)
    “Who are better prepared than the oppressed to understand the significance of an oppressive society? Who suffer the effects of oppression more than the oppressed? Who can better understand the necessity of liberation? They will not gain this liberation by chance but through the praxis for their quest for it, through the recognition of the necessity to fight for it.” (pg. 45)
    “Liberating action involves a moment of perception and volition.” (pg. 51)
    PRAXIS = Perception/Identification + Action
    Spoken Word is the perfect vehicle for Praxis.
    This kind of education is different from traditional modes of teaching that involve the “banking method.” “Education becomes an act of depositing, in which students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits in which students patiently receive, memorize and repeat.” (pg. 72)
  • 9. “Banking education maintains and even stimulates the contradiction through the following attitudes and practices, which mirror oppressive society as a whole:”
    (a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught;
    (b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing;
    (c) the teacher thinks and the students are thought about;
    (d) the teacher talks and the students listen—meekly;
    (e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined;
    (f) the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply;
    (g) the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher;
    (h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it;
    (i) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which s/he sets in opposition to the freedom of the students;
    (j) the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects. (pg. 73)
    “It is not surprising that the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings. The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness which would result from their intervention in the world as transformers of that world.” (pg. 73)
  • 10. There is an entire generation of educators who come to the classroom with a radically different relationship to oral language (hip-hop), access to information (the Internet), and the velocity of thought (wireless communication) than their predecessors. (Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Total Chaos, 2007)
    Educators that honor and acknowledge the narratives of the students (in the center, not margins) of the cipher, who turn “complacent literacy” into active literacy.
    Saul Williams represents a crossroads figure that “hybridizes” hip-hop and spoken word.
    “Hip-hop has given you a model to present yourself verbally in the public domain.”
    “Spoken word inherently adheres to the intellectual and social upliftment of the collective.”
  • 11. Why Hip-Hop?
    Hip-Hop is a global movement that was created and shaped by urban YOUTH of color in New York City. It is a culture that is embedded in mainstream music, art and media.
    It is relevant and important to youth.
    Embedded within rap lyrics are all of the elements of poetry, standards-based literary devices, innovations of form and technology, socio-political and cultural motifs, and critical teaching opportunities.
    I am Posdnous
    I be the new generation of slaves
    here to make papes to buy
    a record exec rakes
    to pile the revenue I create,
    but I guess I don't get a cut
    cuz my rent's a month late.
    Product of a North Carolina cat
    who scratched the back
    of a pretty woman named Hattie…
    —Posdnous of De La Soul, I Am I Be
  • 12. On-Line Hip-Hop Lyric Archivewww.ohhla.com
    When using hip-hop in the class, it is imperative to print out the lyrics. We utilize hip-hop as an important tool to engage students: literacy, critical thinking, creative writing; therefore we need the text to synthesize the learning moments.
    Please note that these lyrics are transcribed by humans, and because hip-hop is an oral medium, the transcriptions are not always correct. Please listen, edit out language for the sake of your classes, etc.
    Because this is an oral medium, it can be exciting to decide how you want to present them, ala Rumi.
  • 13. Don’t Get It Twisted: Building a Comfort Level and Retaining Accountabilityor DO YOU
    1.   How do we retain accountability while using hip-hop? How do we “keep it real”?
    2. Define hip-hop/rap? Use specific terminology, concepts, iconography…
  • 14. That’s War—by dead prez
    HIP-HOP = politics, knowledge, violence, community building, revolution, gun, Pac/BIG, streets, rich/poor, gangs/crews/movements, art…
  • 15. OLD SKOOL HIP-HOP:Bob Dylan – Masters of War
  • 16. Old SkoolDo You
    TEACHER/RESEARCHERS will find and build the bridges.
    Youth have keen BS detectors.
    WRITING EXERCISE: Fill in the blank; be specific, using examples from own lives. Make rules, challenges…
    Exercise can cross compare sestina’s, villanelle, can teach refrain
    Artist: __________
    Song: That’s War
    __________________that’s war!
    __________________that’s war!
    _________________ that’s war!
    __________________that’s war!
    __________________that’s war!
    _________________ that’s war!
  • 17. Nerd-Hop“Teacher-researcher makes good”TRUE SKOOL
    Hey Bobby the Masters are back
    And they’re up to no good
    Just like the old days
    They played dead
    When you stood over their graves
    They played dead
    When you stood over their graves!
    --Sage Francis
  • 18. re-DEFinition
    Hip hop is a cultural movement that began among urban African American and Latino youth in New York City in the early 1970s, and has since spread around the world.
    Hip-Hop consists of 4 main elements (that are found in every culture): deejaying (aural), emceeing/rap (oral), break dancing (dance) and graffiti art (art/visual).
    May consider Knowledge (of Self) the 5th element of hip-hop, and others add numerous elements including: beat boxing, political activism, fashion, entrepreneurship, etc.
    The term “hip-hop” is now often a synonym for hip hop music and rap to mainstream audiences.
  • 19. Hip-Hop is the blight of the community?
    Tribeca Billboard
    “Save Our
    Kids + Hip-Hop
    BAN 50 Cent”
  • 20. Olive Garden vs. Mom & Pops
  • 21. Olive Garden, good food or good marketing?
  • 22. 50 Cent, the death of hip-hop? Or the death of criticality?
    50 (among others) represents the corporatization of a movement and a culture.
    So who are the real thugs?
    COMPANIES: Columbia records, Interscope Records, Shady Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment, G-Unit Records, Reebok, G-Unity Clothing, Playstation games, Vitamin Water for Glaceau which Coca-Cola purchased for 4.1 billion, Right Guard deodorant, Magic Stick condoms, movies, books (G-Unit books/Time Warner)…
  • 23. Jay-Z “Ignorant Sh*t”
    “Scarface” the movie
    Did more than Scarface
    the rapper to me
    So that aint to blame
    for all the shit that’s
    Happened to me
  • 24. There is an entire generation of educators who come to the classroom with a radically different relationship to oral language (hip-hop), access to information (the Internet), and the velocity of thought (wireless communication) than their predecessors. (Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Total Chaos, 2007)
  • 25. Holler.
    Michael Cirelli, Executive Director
    Urban Word NYC
    Poetry Jam (Recorded Books, 2010)
    Creatively College Bound Reader
    (UW, 2008)
    Hip-Hop Poetry & The Classics
    (Milk Mug, 2004)
    Everyone Loves The Situation
    (Penmanship Books, 2011)
    Vacations on the Black Star Line
    (HL Press, 2010)
    Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard
    (HL Press, 2008)