When spoken word poet Asia Rainey came to Tupelo during her two-year artist residency through the Link Centre, she taught her workshops to teens in the Tupelo Police Athletic League.
Now, she’s a full-time Tupelo resident and will continue spreading her knowledge of spoken word and creative writing to male and female PAL teens, ages 13 and up, twice a week starting in mid-September.
Rainey wanted to continue working with PAL because of the staff’s dedication to making the program grow. She said PAL creates a “safe space” where police officers are actively connecting with the youth on a regular basis.
Even though her workshops are not athletics related, spoken word still contains a competitive edge.
During her residency, Rainey traveled with a group of young adults to the National Spoken Word Competition to compete in Brave New Voices.
“This big thing is, usually, it’s a literary program,” Rainey said. “This is totally different where it’s been primarily athletics. The young people don’t expect it right away, but I think the elements of poetry slam, which is competitive, attracted them to that part of the art form.”
Rainey’s goal is to help the youth find their voice. It’s the part that makes her love her job.