CAPON BRIDGE — Mountain Echoes: A Youth Spoken Word Event will take the stage fro 2 to 4 p.m. May 16 at The River House.

Teens in grades 8-12 from area schools will perform original poetry.

Project Write Inc., Wardensville Garden Market and The River House 1st joined forces for Mountain Echoes last spring, but Covid-19 pushed the performances online.

This year’s event will be live, in-person in The River House’s outdoor dining and performance area. It will be limited to 25 competitors and 75 guests. Standard mask and social distancing guidelines will be in force.

Mountain Echoes: A Youth Spoken Word Event builds on a project that started at Wardensville Garden Market called Mountain Echoes Story Works.

“Through our learning environments, we offer an important opportunity for youth to explore their own identities and engage with the world around them in ways that are exciting, relevant, and driven by their interests,” Story Works Instructor Siara Gaylord said.

Story Works trains youth to tell their stories through primarily digital content because, as Wardensville Garden Market says, “stories forge connection, stories stick with people, and storytelling sets the stage for equity.”

Mountain Echoes will bring together young writers and performers to tell their stories to a live audience.

“By giving young people this event, we are encouraging them to speak aloud, to say what needs to be said,” said John Berry, local poet and member of The River House board of directors. “By speaking their poem, we hope they will begin to hear their own voice.”

“Project Write’s mission is to create meaningful experiences with writing for both students and adults in a safe environment in order to have a lasting and influential effect on their lives,” said Rhonda Lancaster, director of youth programs at Project Write Inc. “The Mountain Echoes spoken word event means providing a platform for area youth that is open to the public, who need to hear what our youth have to say about their lives and our shared world.”

While the 3 nonprofits are based in different counties, their missions overlap. Berry is affiliated with all 3 groups.

“Non-profits do greater good together than apart,” he said. “Each organization brings particular strengths to add to the whole.”

Students in grades 8-12 must register for the competition by this Friday, April 30. The event is free for participants and includes 4 workshops with Berry, Lancaster and Steve Kirk, editor at Oak Journal, writer at Fifth Estate and former slam poetry performer.

The workshops will be held via Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 4, 6, 11 and 13, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The workshops will include tips, training and practice time for writing and performing for the spoken word.

Students can bring a piece they’ve been working on or to develop a new work during the workshops.

Cash prizes are awarded to the top 3 performers based on evaluation by a panel of judges. All participants will receive gift bags with items from the sponsoring organizations.

The public can attend the performances on May 16, a Sunday. at The River House.

Pre-registration is not required for audience members. For more information and to register to participate, youth in grades 8-12 should visit: https://forms.gle/mAhaMFVEYZG5CzzZ6 .

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