Annual poetry festival inspires passion for the arts

One popular way to get kids involved in the community is through self-expression and, this year, Poetry-N-Motion plans to do just that! 

With several festivals going on this season, the 2019 Southeastern Regional NC Poetry Festival is always looking to provide a place where the youth can create and grow in the arts. This year, CEO and Founder of Poetry-N-Motion, LJ Bowens, and the committee are putting on another Youth Slam on Saturday, April 27th at 7:30 pm during the annual four-day festival. 

The poetry competition gives people participants ages 13-19 the opportunity to showcase their best poetry and win the $300 grand prize. It is usually one of their most popular events and is highly requested
each year by their supporters.  

“The youth find ways to express themselves. If they can’t express themselves in a way where it’s vocal or people don’t understand, sometimes they tend to go to the arts,” said Bowens.  

Media and art typically influence each generation’s youth. Bowens points to the influences of old school hip-hop and poetry during his youth. Poetry was his outlet to express himself and he understands why it is so important today.  

“I know for one, myself, growing up in an art scene, it was a beautiful thing to have that as an outlet,” Bowens said. “So now you have more people trying to push that onto the youth so that they can do something more constructive.”  

In his free time, Bowens and his wife, Monica, work with a group of students at Western Harnett High School twice a month. They have partnered with non-profits that work specifically with the youth and other schools to keep poetry classes and workshops going.  

They love getting kids engaged and helping enhance their poetry skills. It brings them joy to see their participation and growth in poetry. To Bowens, it is important to sow the seed in the generation that will plant seeds in the generations to follow.  

“It is good to see them coming out, being more vocal about it and wanting to express themselves with that. In return, you get youth poets and they’re the next generation of great writers and great storytellers that this world needs. Because when we’re gone, the stories need to continue, or their stories need to be heard.”  

However, when dealing with the community and the arts, Bowens said it is about a common vision. Poetry-N-Motion teamed up with The Sweet Palette, Winterbloom Tea, Volta Space, and the Main Branch Library to put on the festival. Each of these places do a lot for the arts already, so their contribution toward the festival is meaningful.  

The support has grown over the years through more partnerships. The library and The Sweet Palette are two originals since the first festival ten years ago. Now, more non-profits and businesses are reaching out to Bowens in order to participate in next year’s festival.  

The events vary each year, too. In addition to their annual Youth Slam, they hold NERD Slams where poets showcase their passion in comics, tv shows, video games and others. They try to do different events each year along with their year favorites. This year they hosted an LGBTQ Open Mic at the Winterbloom Tea.  

In previous years, they’ve hosted an erotic open mic, old school versus new school slam, all-women’s slam, and even a spelling bee for poets.  

Overall, the festival is meant to merge activism and art. According to Bowens, the stories that lie within poetry are just as important as the art itself. Each poem gives each person something to relate to. There is a passionate subject a poet has that can affect a community. 

“When you have the art and when you have what’s known as the activism that comes with these things, it’s meant to mesh so it brings that community aspect into these events,” Bowens said. “That’s why we do a lot of well-rounded events with the festival.” 

For additional information about the festival, the events, or Poetry-N-Motion, visit the Facebook page.