Acclaimed filmmaker to host poetry workshop

Published 4:39 pm Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Minority Coalition is offering Poetry Workshops on two consecutive Wednesdays, June 23 and June 30, from 10 a.m. to noon at Ross Beatty High School in Cassopolis.

Kareemah El Amin, acclaimed filmmaker, playwright and poet, will give the workshops, which are underwritten by the Greater Kalamazoo Arts Council, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the Cass County Youth Council.

The free workshops are called “The Body That Writes, The Body That Feels” and are open to those students in seventh grade to adult ages, from beginners to advanced poets.
El Amin promises participants “will explore the body; human, earthly and societal in a process that asks you to embrace your authentic self in relation to the universal “body” of life.

“Through a series of fun and thought-provoking exercises participants will be amazed at how much they have to say, and the ease with which this process allows them to say it,” she said. “Everyone will be able to participate and create a space to share their voice.”
El Amin started writing poetry as a child.

“I loved the sound and the cadence of poetry,” she said. “It made me feel good. I remember writing my very first poem in school and the teacher not believing I wrote it. Instead of being angry I was proud that she thought my poem was too good for me to have written it. That was the beginning.

“Poetry for me later developed in to songwriting and then eventually to screenwriting and playwriting,” El Amin said. “I came back to poetry about 10 years ago and all of the films or plays I have produced have been an adaptation of a poem I’ve written.”

The workshops are being held in advance of the International Festival so that participants can create poetry to be included in a chapbook and performed at the festival. The International Festival will be held Sunday, Sept. 12 at Ross Beatty High School.
El Amin will host the poetry slam at the festival.

“Spoken word poetry allows me to express myself poetically with the added edge, or nuance if you will, of storytelling. When I perform/recite a poem it’s like I get to take on an alter ego and become whomever or whatever the poem is addressing.”

El Amin hosts the Straight No Chaser Team on 98.3, billed as the hottest underground radio show on the airwaves. Her most recent project is to create a performing arts cadre in Benton Harbor, known as Urban Thought Arts Ensemble, online at  She was invited to represent the United States as a poet laureate in an international arts project with Art for Humanity in Durban, South Africa in 2006.

In 2005 El Amin wrote, produced and directed the play “Lock Down Legacy”, her response to the damaging effects of incarceration for black families.

For more information about the poetry workshops or International Festival, contact Ruth Andrews at (269) 445-0269.