Jay Ward is a poet and teaching artist from Charlotte, NC. He is a Program Director for BreatheInk, an organization that works specifically with students of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a 2017 Callaloo Fellow, a 2019 Breadloaf Writer's Conference general contributor, and is also certified by Amherst Writer's and Artists to lead writing groups. Jay is a National Poetry Slam champion (2018) and an Individual World Poetry Slam champion (2019). In addition to facilitating bi-weekly writing and performance workshops with youth poets, he has been requested to speak at UNC-Charlotte, Hofstra University and the National Council for Black Studies 40th Anniversary Conference. He enjoys talking to educators not only about why poetry is important and should be taught in the schools, but also practical steps of how this can be done in a way where the teachers aren't intimidated and the students are empowered and eager to learn.


Conference Sessions

Spoken Word, Social Justice & Pedagogy
Spoken Word poetry has become a hot button in the media recently, particularly in connection with social justice, as a method to connect the younger generation with the world around them. In truth, this is what spoken word has always achieved since the days of the griots, the storytellers and oral historians. This session will explore the cause and effect relationship between social justice and poetry, how this affects students and how spoken word pedagogy can be integrated into the classroom. The session will conclude with Q&A meant to refine our collective thinking about arts integration in curriculum and spark further discussion about how best to benefit from the resurgence of this age old knowledge community

Keeping Your Inner Artist Alive
Norman Vincent Peale once said 'it's always too soon to quit'. Yet many artists constantly struggle with doubt and that nagging voice that tells us maybe we should be doing something else with our time. Artists from various genres and mediums have been interviewed and participated in group discussions centered on common causes, remedies and helpful tips to keep the artist within us thriving even through storms of self-doubt. This session will explore the findings of those interviews and connect the dots in the data to reveal a true picture of what our art means to the world. (Also offered in conjunction with the Let the Artist Loose workshop)

Find the Right Voice for Your Voice

Roundtable discussion. You have confidence in the words you've given life to on paper, but not so much when you have to read those words aloud in public. You want to give your writing the life it deserves, it should jump from the stage to those listening just as it jumps from the page to those reading. There is a certain language and voice that we find ourselves in when we write. A different voice is often needed when we present the work to others, whether at a book reading or an open mic or a poetry slam. This will be a hybrid session/workshop where participants are given the opportunity to read/perform their work and express their anxieties about doing so in public. As time permits we will run through Performance 101 and a Performance 1 on 1 activities.


Designing the Rollercoaster - An Essential Guide to Editing
In this workshop we discuss how to match our rough draft to our intent behind the writing. Multiple exercises will address clarity, pacing, tension and figurative language. In addition, useful tools will be shared to help us edit our own work and establish guidelines for practical peer editing. Students should bring existing work to edit, but we will also create new work in the workshop that we will edit together.

Mapping to Hip Hop - Rap & Spoken Word as Literature
This workshop will begin with a discussion of the value of Hip Hop and contemporary poetry as literature and in pedagogy. We will analyze the audio and the context of the lyrics and then examine them on paper. We will go through a series of exercises mapping rap lyrics to classic poetry. The workshop will include time and prompts to create original work.

Let the Artist Loose - An Intensive Writing Exercise
What inhibits you from being the artist you want to be? Are you suffering from writer's block, lack of inspiration, even a nagging voice telling you your not good enough to pursue your passion for poetry? Most of this workshop will be spent writing, writing, writing! Attendees will be given several prompts and group activities meant to shake ourselves loose of the subconscious barriers we've imposed on ourselves and get back to what an artist really wants to do in the first place - create.

For schools, programs, team building, etc, additional workshops are available, such as the Poetry Bootcamp Series:
1. Enhanced Imagery
2. Better Metaphors
3. Eliminating Cliche's
4. Word Efficiency
5. Form Exploration

Conference History

National Council for Black Studies 40th Anniversary Conference, UNC-Charlotte
Spoken Word, Social Justice & Pedagogy, Roundtable Discussion with Workshop

TLQP Best Practices in Education Conference, Hofstra Univ
The Rhythm of the Word, Seminar with Workshop

TLQP Best Practices in Education Conference, Hofstra Univ
Math, Metrics and Rhyme Sequences, Seminar with Workshop

Workshop History