Josh Rowsey with students


Students make their voices heard during CA’s first-ever Poetry Slam

May 13, 2021

After a four-week study of spoken word, poetry, and rap with artists-in-residence Josh “Rowdy” Rowsey ’09 and Lauren Bullock, seventh-grade students shared their voices at Cary Academy’s first annual Middle School Poetry Slam! Student performances on identity and current social justice issues took place on May 12 in the Cary Academy Fitness Center. Students shared poetry and rap that touched on racial injustice, climate change, recent violence towards Asians, female empowerment, gender identity, and much more! Students blew their audience away with their ability to take risks, lean into discomfort, and voice their most deeply held beliefs, feelings, and passions! After a challenging year of disconnection and isolation, it felt so good to have such a bonding and communal experience! 

This community-building and advocacy-focused event was the culmination of a month-long study of spoken word, poetry, and rap under the tutelage of Rowsey and Bullock. These two guest experts have been working with 7th graders in the Language Arts classroom, coaching them up on the history of spoken word and hip-hop, poetic form and devices, and performance techniques involving voice, body language, and gesture. Based on this guidance, students have been busy writing, revising, and practicing their delivery for weeks! As Josh and Lauren say, “Peace, love, and family!” 

Kevin Joshua Rowsey is a National Recording Artist, Writer, Actor, and Educator based in the North Carolina Triangle Area. “Rowdy” has been featured on BET, NPR, PBS Kids, and has given a TEDX talk on the importance of Hip Hop Culture. Rowsey is a U.S. Hip Hop Ambassador through the U.S. Department of State and the Next Level Hip Hop Program. On stage Rowsey is part of the national collective No9to5 Music and plays with a live Jazz Band (J) Rowdy & The Night Shift which was nominated for a 2017 Carolina Music Award. They’ve been able to share the stage with the likes of Rakim, Busta Rhymes, Ari Lennox, Childish Major, Snow Tha Product, Murs, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, and a plethora of other national recording acts. Currently Rowdy is the founder of two triangle area cyphers – The UNC Cypher (UNC-CH) and the Med City Cypher (Downtown Durham). He also holds the position of Program Director at the Downtown Durham – Afrofuturist Teen Center Blackspace. Through UNC Greensboro’s Masters of Arts in Teaching Program Rowsey continues his mission to spread southern hip hop at a national and international level through performance, writing and educational workshops inspiring the culture through the craft. 

Lauren Bullock is a queer multiracial writer, performer, teaching artist, events organizer, and model. Her work appears on AFROPUNK.com, Button Poetry, The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and more. Lauren earned acclaim for her pop culture commentary through editorials on Black Nerd Problems as well as serving as poetry editor for FreezeRay Poetry. To date, she has organized 7 international and regional arts conferences or festivals, and 5 monthly series. Lauren’s modeling work has also been featured by publications such as Gmaro Magazine and Out-and-Out Magazine. When not creating she enjoys fighting crime as a costumed vigilante of many aliases.

Written by Dan Smith, Digital Content Producer and Social Media Manager

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