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Keynote: Poetry Can Teach Young People “We’re Not Alone”

PHOTO: Poet Kane Smego is coming to Charleston this week to address a conference of Social Workers. He says says he'll talk about a central part of his work - teaching young people how to use spoken word performances to better understand themselves and others. Photo courtesy of Smego.
PHOTO: Poet Kane Smego is coming to Charleston this week to address a conference of Social Workers. He says says he'll talk about a central part of his work - teaching young people how to use spoken word performances to better understand themselves and others. Photo courtesy of Smego.
April 13, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Poetry is a tool that can help young people break out of isolation, according to the keynote speaker at a conference of social workers this week.

Spoken word artist Kane Smego plans to talk to folks about how it works Wednesday morning during the annual spring conference in Charleston of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

"Young people in general are always looking for outlets,” Smego points out. “And I think that once we begin to tell our story and we begin to listen to the stories of others, we begin to see that we're not alone."

After his keynote speech, Smego will hold a writing and performance workshop with at-risk youth.

The West Virgina Social Workers conference is the largest event of it's kind in the country.

Smego says another poet he knows puts it this way: once we start to tell our own stories, then we can see a way to become the editor of those narratives.

He says that's what makes story telling and the spoken word a good tool for his workshops with young people, especially those in trouble.

"They're really geared towards helping young folks harness the power of their own stories and their own words, looking at life experience and articulate it through poetry and connect with their identity in new ways," he explains.

Smego was raised by his single mom in North Carolina and says his biography is a big part of his work. He says the keynote will be part performance and part discussion.

"I'll be performing original pieces that I've written, memorized and choreographed,” he says. “A lot of them will be narrative pieces. And then also in between poems, I'll be just talking and telling the audience the story of my journey."

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV