Forward Arts Programs


Forward Arts offers a diverse array of spoken word poetry and creative writing workshops for varying ages and grade levels through our Poet In Residence program.  Using pedagogy that includes canonized and contemporary poems, Forward Arts in-school workshops align with Common Core standards while providing engaging, creative outlets for expression through writing. All workshops can be customized to fit the specific needs of classrooms and partner teachers.  

WordCrew: Youth Spoken Word Leadership Cohort
The only of it’s kind in Baton Rouge, this youth spoken word cohort meets weekly to write, perform, engage in dialogue and discourse,  and plan youth spoken word and poetry events. WordCrew members plan and coordinate Forward Arts’ monthly teen open mic and poetry slam, Freshhhh Heat– which is the largest youth open mic in the state.  In addition, members of WordCrew participate in writing retreats, curate and perform in specialty shows, showcase at local and regional events, and serve as editors for Forward Arts’ youth literary journal, Crushed Canvas. WordCrew is open to youth writers ages 13–19.  

Freshhhh Heat Teen Open Mic & Poetry Slam
Curated and organized by the youth poets of WordCrew, Freshhhh Heat is a monthly youth open mic and poetry slam that brings together teen poets and performers from Baton Rouge and surrounding areas. Young people of all genres perform their original work among 100+ of their peers. Freshhhh Heat runs during the months of September-March, every 1st Wednesday at the Main Library at Goodwood. Freshhhh Heat is open to youth poets ages 13–19.

ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival
With over 100 youth participating each year, the ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival is the largest youth poetry slam festival in the South. During the course of this festival, youth from schools and community organizations from Baton Rouge and surrounding areas perform their original work in historic theaters and venues across the city. Youth poets participate in writing and performance workshops, community building, political, personal, and social discourse, and poetry slams. The top poets from the preliminary competitions go on to perform in front of hundreds of community members, with the top 6 poets going on to compete at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival. ALL CITY is open to youth poets ages 13–19.

Baton Rouge Youth Poet Laureate Program
In partnership with Urban Word NYC, Penmanship Books, New Delta Review, The Louisiana Book Festival, The Old Governor’s Mansion, LSU Readers & Writers, and The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, this program is the first of its kind. The Baton Rouge Youth Poet Laureate is an unprecedented area-wide celebration of literacy through poetry and spoken word. Beginning in 2016, each year we will accept submissions from young people (13–19) to be considered for Forward Arts’ top honor. The YPL earns a book deal and will embark on a tour of the state performing their work at libraries, civic events, and curated readings. In partnership with Penmanship Publishing & working with a local, experienced, and acclaimed writing mentor, the laureate will publish a full-length collection of their work. The 2016–2017 Youth Poet Laureates are Jolie Gilbert and Brittany Marshall.

Slam Camp
Each summer, Forward Arts offers a 3-week summer camp that promotes literacy, communication, and leadership through writing, critical discourse, and performance. Through the practice of poetry slam, the teens of Baton Rouge are given the opportunity to embrace their identities as writers, performers, and change-makers. Through team building, field trips, and meaningful dialogue, youth build lifelong connections with their peers and mentors. Slam Camp takes place during the month of June on the Louisiana State University campus.

Forward Arts All Star Youth Slam Team
Each year, the top 6 scoring poets from The ALL CITY Teen Poetry Slam Festival go on to compete at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in July (The Festival will take place in San Francisco in 2017). These All Star youth participate in a summer intensive in preparation for the competition. They travel to regional youth slams and festivals, write collaboratively, and learn the ins-and-outs of youth slam. They study prominent poets and performers and build community in this close-knit group. After performing around the city and region throughout the summer, The All Stars go on to the international competition to represent Forward Arts and Baton Rouge. The All Stars of 2016 went on to place 5th out of 60 youth slam teams from across the world. Check them out here!