During the fall of 2018, Nahide Arabajdi, project coordinator of Engage at the House of free speech had nine workshops with secondary school students in Växjö, Sweden.
The aim of the workshops was to encourage students to write their own poetry and teach them how to perform it in front of an audience. The students were given several different types of poetry to read, but also to listen, and watch. They also got the opportunity to meet with one of Sweden’s best spoken word artist Amer Sarsour, winner of the Swedish championship in Poetry Slam and who has held workshops in several countries within the spoken word field.
At the end of the workshops, all students were invited to participate in the Culture Night. The Culture Night is the biggest annual cultural event in Växjö. The town is surrounded by music, dance and art. In 2019 Culture Night was held Saturday 26th of January and the theme was Sense and Sensibility. This was the topic that the students also had to consider writing their own poetry. The target group had never attended the cultural night and they event did'nt know that it was a tradition in their own town. Since it’s a big event, there was a lot of marketing regarding the night, and the students’ performance was included in the program that was given to all the households in Växjö.
This was a very good way to include the target group in a cultural activity that
otherwise they wouldn’t have attended. Although the workshops were mandatory, the final night was a Saturday evening and we couldn’t demand the students to attend so it was all voluntary, but they all showed up anyways. The took very much pride in their own effort, and did their very best within the performance. It was about 50 people in the audience which is full capacity for the venue. It was both the student’s family and friends but also people with no connection to the students who came to listen to them.
Amer Sarsour opened the poetry night with a reading of his own poetry. He also talked about his own creative process and what he had been through until he found his own creativity and way of expression.