Open Call: Power of Words 2012

The 9th Power of Words conference will be held October 26-29, 2012 at Pendle Hill near Philadelphia, PA.

Call for Proposals: Part of what makes the Power of Words an amazing conference is a palpable sense of connection and homecoming that comes from meeting others who are living their lives powerfully and authentically. We would love to have you come, and we would love even more if you’d consider submitting a proposal to have some of your work be shared there. The call for workshop and performance proposals is here, and we hope you’ll consider submitting one, helping us build that web of connection and depth.

From now until the end of January 2012, we will be accepting proposals for people interesting in offering their work to others at the conference. Once January ends our Proposal Selection Committee will spend time together reading them over, and we will announce accepted workshops in February.  As before, we will focus on four themes for workshops: Narrative Medicine / Healing Stories, Right Livelihood, Social Activism, and Engaged Spirituality. To read more about the details of these areas, please check out their descriptions on the conference page.

A difference this year is the option to submit a proposal for performance time during main sessions as well as workshops. Because the Network is committed to lifting each other up and highlighting the amazing gifts, talents, and skills that people possess, we wanted to open up some of the performance time as well: a limited number of slots during the main, all-conference sessions will be devoted to offerings submitted via the proposal process. We are excited about what will emerge!

The form for proposal submission is here, and we hope you both (a) consider proposing something yourself and (b) send this information to people you know who have something powerful to offer.

Keynoter: Jimmy Santiago Baca: Born in New Mexico of Indio-Mexican descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was raised first by his grandmother and later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at age 13, it was after Baca was sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison that he began to turn his life around: he learned to read and write and unearthed a voracious passion for poetry.  During a fateful conflict with another inmate, Jimmy was shaken by the voices of Neruda and Lorca, and made a choice that would alter his destiny. Instead of becoming a hardened criminal, he emerged from prison a writer. He went on to send out his poetry, earn a GED, write and publish, earning a Pushcart Prize, American Book Award, International Hispanic Heritage Award and many other honors. His publications include the memoir A Place to Stand, volumes of poetry and more. Baca has devoted his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardship. His themes include American Southwest barrios, addiction, injustice, education, community, love and beyond. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country. He also founded Ceder Tree, Inc., a nonprofit foundation that works to give people of all walks of life the opportunity to become educated and to improve their lives.

Other Features: Deb Hensley, who founded “When Did We Stop Singing?” and is a founding member of the improvisational singing group Improvox, will be leading a workshop to help us return to our native voices, and also sharing her powerful performance on how we can connect with the natural world through the magic of birdsong. Kao Kue, Hmong spoken word artist who combines poetry and song, will perform her astonishing art.

Photoshopping A New Continent

Spartan Artist-in-Residence Kenyatta Hinkle

Kenyatta Hinkle says she thinks Sam’s trailer has a life of it’s own.  As the Trash On Wheels’ first Artist In Residence, she was asked to tells us what it’s like to make art inside the trailer. With her husband and friends playing soulful, spiritual jazz,  she set up shop one afternoon during the Arts In The One World Conference, January 27-29.

“The floorboards move.  There’s energy in there,” she said, stopping to take in the vibe of the sixty-year old structure.   “There are some stories here.  It even smells like my grandmother’s attic. It’s high and low art – it’s a home and not a home. ”

Born in Louisville and raised in Baltimore, Kenyatta came to CalArts as a visual artist. She switched to a major in multimedia interdisciplinary art to give her more tools to work with. As she sat outside with her back leaning against the trailer she tried to figure out how to attach one half of a straight-haired blond wig to half of a black curly one.

“You wear this when you go for a job interview. The black half works works for the employer looking for diversity.  The blonde one…” she said, her voice trailing off. “Before I came to CalArts, I did a lot of work around the power of hair.  When Delilah cut Samson’s hair, he lost his power.  Hair can also have a religious aspect; in some cultures, people in mourning don’t comb their hair.”

She studied awesome pictures of African women with elaborate hairstyles.  “If you see a deer with horns you don’t mess with it,” she said.

Her mother was always strict about hair.  “We weren’t allowed to go out of the house unless our hair was combed. In traditional African culture, you have to be aligned before you got out into the world.  That means your hair has to be combed.”

Kenyatta’s mother creates elaborate hairstyles that take hours to create. “A while back I found pictures of women in Africa with the exact same hairstyles.  My mother had no idea!”

When Kenyatta got married she cut off her husband’s lock and wove it into her own hair. It was kind of a present. “In certain tribes women pass down their hair extensions,” she explains.  “It’s called the gifting of hair. There’s power in hair,” she explains.  “Sampson lost his power when Delilah cut off his hair.”

Her current work consist of creating her own continent.  She plans to mix a little piece of Kentucky, where some of ancestors are from, with a little piece of West Africa, where others originated.   A lot of her history is unknown to her, so she’ll just make that part up.

“I like to subvert things,” she says.  “It’s kind of like Photoshopping.”

See Kenyatta Hinkle’s You Tube video

This post is part of a series documenting Sam Breen’a Spartan Restoration Project. Please see his first post here and check out the archive here. The CSPA is helping Sam by serving in an advisory role, offering modest support and featuring Sam’s Progress by syndicating his feed from as part of our CSPA Supports Program.