Incarcerated Youth Get Creative with Rap, Poetry and the Spoken Word

Pitzer College and High School Partner to Promote Individual Humanity

Claremont, Calif. (December, 2007)—The biannual Borrowed Voices event that showcases the poetry, short stories, and spoken word created by incarcerated young men ages thirteen to eighteen will take place at Pitzer College from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on December 13 in Avery Auditorium. The group of young men will be allowed to visit the College to perform their work for Pitzer, the Claremont community and the general public.

“Borrowed Voices, a Pitzer College program of the Center for California Cultural and Social Issues (CCCSI), is about finding humanity in young people who are routinely dehumanized. More than that, it’s about creating a space for young people from different walks of life to get to know one another, and to bring out the best that each group and each individual has to give. I am proud of the collaboration between students and staff at the Camps High School and at Pitzer College,” Susan Phillips, faculty director of CCCSI said.

Through Pitzer’s CCCSI program, Borrowed Voices, students worked with minors at Afflerbaugh-Paige High School and completed an eleven-week internship. During this time, the high school students whose work will be featured at this event demonstrated significant improvement in their studies and enjoyed a higher rate of class participation. They were introduced to the art of poetry and the spoken word through learned poetry techniques, such as hyperbole, allusion and imagery; read classical work by Langston Hughes and Pablo Neruda; and examined contemporary work of artists such as Talib Kweli and Josefina Lopez.

The collaboration between Afflerbaugh-Paige High School and Pitzer College began in 2002. Each year new students gain confidence in their writing abilities and create beautiful, loving, painful and at times angry works—writing from their hearts. They learn that writing and self-expression are forms of power and skills that once learned can be employed anytime and anywhere.

“The program uses self-expression as the development of the mind and makes the concept of college real to the young people at Afflerbaugh Paige High School. Our students interact with college students and learn from people closer in age to themselves. They see college as ‘something for them,’ I appreciate the fact that the Pitzer leaders and students treat our students as high school students first,” Walt Lamb, principal of Afflerbaugh-Paige High School, said.

Directors and representatives from Pitzer College’s California Center for Cultural and Social Issues (CCCSI), Los Angeles County Probation, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) will be in attendance.
Funding for the 2007-08 Borrowed Voices program was made possibly by the California Council for the Humanities story initiative, “California Stories: How I See It,” a statewide campaign of the California Council for the Humanities. The campaign enables young people to share in their own words and through a variety of their media show what they lives are like, what they care about, and what it’s like to grow up in today’s California. “How I See It” is the third major campaign of the Council’s ongoing California Stories initiative that began in 2002.

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