Screening, Symposium, Offer Chance To Be Heard
Everyone deserves a chance to
be heard, to express her voice. But claiming opportunities
to rise above competing voices and interests, in society
or at Smith, can be a challenge.
three characters in a film titled To Be Heard, the
solution was found in the form of poetry, writing and reciting. To
Be Heard documents the lives of three
teenagers from the South Bronx, who find power and transformation
through their poetic expressions. The film follows the three
teens, Pearl, Karina and Anthony, for four years as they
overcome sizable obstacles to become accomplished, self-aware
A screening of To
on Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. in Weinstein Auditorium, will
kick off a two-day symposium, that will give Smith students and
others in the college community opportunities to speak out
about race, class, and other issues addressed in the film.
"To Be Heard highlights
the necessity for programs that foster creativity and freedom
of expression," notes Nia Spooner '13, who, with Marie Hoffman
Jones '13, is coordinating the "To Be Heard" symposium. "We
hope attendees will become aware of issues in the United
States' educational system, particularly for children from
low-income neighborhoods and inner-city schools such as the
South Bronx school profiled in the film."
To Be Heard, the winner
of numerous film festival awards, was directed and produced
by Roland Legiardi-Laura, a documentary filmmaker, poet and
educator, who developed Power Poetry, the New York City public
schools program featured in the film; Amy Sultan, director
of the Power Writers Program at the Nuyorican Poets' Café
in New York; and Joe Ubiles, educational director for Power
Writers. The New
York Times called To
Be Heard "one of the best documentaries of the year."
The film will be followed by
a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers, and with
Pearl Quick, one of the characters in the film. Quick, now
24, was born and raised in New York City. A spoken-word poet,
Quick teaches poetry and attends Sarah Lawrence College.
The symposium will continue
on Tuesday, March 5, with a panel discussion, at 6:30 p.m.
in Neilson Browsing Room, featuring the filmmakers and Quick
discussing racism, classism, educational inequality and other
topics. Refreshments will be served.
Following the panel,
at 7:30 p.m. in the Poetry Center, Wright Hall, Pearl Quick
will join Smith students for a poetry slam.
events are free and open to all.
To Be Heard is, most importantly,
a film about how language links people. Pearl, Karina and
Anthony build an unlikely bond, at first tenuous, based on
language, respect, and the need to survive.
many inequalities, the three characters find mutual support
in what was supposed to be a school punishment: a poetry
writing program called Power Poetry. There, they discover
a forum for expressing their frustrations.
When they first saw To Be
Heard, both Spooner and Jones were struck by the power
that poetry played in the characters' lives. Spooner is
now teaching poetry to elementary students, while Jones
works with Power Poetry and partcipates in slams at the
The “To Be Heard” symposium is sponsored
by the Black Students Alliance, Poetry Center, Poetry Concentration,
the Poetry Slam Organization, and the departments of American
studies, film studies, education, history and English language