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I had the privilege of attending the finals of the NY Knicks Poetry Slam, a competition among poetry performance artists. The Knicks Poetry Slam is a five-year old program designed to use hip-hop and poetry as a vehicle to motivate and inspire high school students to express themselves through written and spoken word.

The poems were beautifully and skillfully written and performed. The words of these young people were lyrical, moving, and inspirational. What was clear from the presentations was the strength and authenticity of the performers. These young people spoke candidly about topics ranging from physical abuse to brutal violence to the death of loved ones. The audience consisted of mostly high school students from the New York City area. Their strongest positive reactions were to raw and honest expression of feelings and emotions the authentic voices of the performers.

What came through was what a powerful vehicle poetry is for accessing deep emotions, overcoming adversity, and coming out healed and stronger for it. What was also clear was how people thirst for authentic expressions of emotion from others. We are drawn to individuals who are courageous enough to be vulnerable and share their true feelings. It is through our vulnerability that we see ourselves in others and can connect with them. Authentic expressions in written and spoken word are ways we can re-connect the broken threads in the Quilt of Humanity.