VISITING POET

Njeri discusses spoken word in Minnesota

She visited two middle-schools in Minnesota, US.

In Summary

• Njeri talked about discovering poetry, her passion for writing and her culture.

Njeri Wangari takes a selfie with a section of students from Oak-Land Middle School during one of her lessons on the power of poetry and spoken words
Njeri Wangari takes a selfie with a section of students from Oak-Land Middle School during one of her lessons on the power of poetry and spoken words
Image: Courtesy

Kenyan poet and writer Njeri Wangarĩ got a rare opportunity to share her passion for poetry writing and spoken word performance in two middle-schools in Minnesota, US, during a two-week programme, where she was invited as a visiting poet.

She shared about her journey into poetry, writing, becoming a spoken word poet as well as about her culture.

The genesis of Njeri’s visit dates back to two years ago, when she published the poem ‘Words and Guns’ on her blog. It piqued the interest of Dr Jim Hainlen, a volunteer poetry teacher at Stillwater Middle School.

 

He requested permission to study the poem with his class 5th & 6th Graders. “Being able to bring a living poet who, despite having come from Africa, was speaking on issues relatable to our everyday reality was a great opportunity, which I felt would have a great and lasting impact on the students,” Dr Hainlen said.

Njeri’s hope as she started the two-week programme was that she would change the perception of the young students, who admitted at the onset that they found poetry boring and un-relatable.

Njeri performed her three studied poems from her collection, as well as a new one she had written during her visit: an ode to Prince — the celebrated award-winning musician who is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I had a wonderful time teaching, talking and sharing the beauty of words and power of poetry with all your students in what was for me, a time to have my work taken apart," Njeri said upon her return to Kenya last week.

"To bear witness to how each student interpreted the words to their world was one of the most joyous moments of life as a poet."