PPHP sponsors fourth poetry slam

“What we hope to do is foster change in [housing] providers and in the general public,” said Jay Dworin, program director, Enforcement Division of the Pittsburgh Fair Housing Partnership.

In honor of Fair Housing Month, and to promote greater awareness, PFHP will present its “Fourth Annual Poetry Slam, From Words to Actions: Remaking Communities for Everyone” competition at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty April 8, at 8 p.m. Prior to the poetry slam, at 7 pm, audiences will be entertained by the Guinea West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, headed by Aboubacar “Oscar” Camara. Peter Harvey of PFHP invited GWADDE to be a sort of opening act for poetry slam after seeing them perform at the Carnegie Library in Oakland during Black History Month.

SYMPHONY IN THE HILL—The Third Annual Hill District Community Engagement Concert was held at St. Benedict the Moor Church March 25. Poet Toi Derricotte read during the Pittsburgh Symphony’s performance at St. Benedict the Moor Church.

“The more we bring home the idea of equality and speak out against discrimination in all matters, the more enlightened the community becomes to these issues,” said Mona Statmore, who is in charge of booking, management and promotion for GWADDE. “Events such as this reach people at the grass roots level and inspire them to change society, one act at a time. I feel it is a very important matter, addressed in a very creative way! Creativity inspires.”

Each year, the competition draws bigger and bigger audiences. Dworin expects approximately 200 people to attend this year. Poetry slam was created as a way to introduce area residents to PFHP and its services and to make them more aware of what fair housing injustice looks like. To that end, PFHP will have representatives on hand not only to judge the competition, but to provide information and offer assistance, too, if necessary.

“One of the real difficulties of fair housing work is that fair housing is grossly underreported,” said Dworin. “So many people are unaware of their fair housing rights, and when they do know their rights are being abused, they still don’t know where to go.”

Kelly-Strayhorn was chosen as the venue for this year’s competition because PFHP liked the idea of having the performance in an “actual neighborhood.” PFHP is looking for poets who can “get across their message of fair housing justice.” The winner of this year’s $500 first place prize will be someone whose poem is consistent with PFHP’s message. Since the beginning, the competition has attracted a fairly even mix of both professional and amateur poets.

In addition to cash prizes for the poets, there will also be door prizes and refreshments for the audience. A $5 donation is recommended.

(For more information, visit https://www.pittsburghfairhousing.org or https://www.kelly-strayhorn.org.)

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