Jovan Mays held his annual workshop today, bringing his amazing art and insight that he has to offer. Every year we cover Mays as a newspaper, but this year I thought it would be a better idea to help readers who don’t get the privilege of seeing Mays during their language art classes.
Word travels fast around LHS that Mays is here for two reasons: students get out of class for the whole period or his teachings stuck with you for the past year and now you are pleased that he is back.
For starters, Mays has been writing professionally since he was in high school. He graduated from Smokey Hill out in Aurora back in 2004. Athletics were a huge part of his high school career but always made time for his writing that he was very passionate about.
Mays noted about being introduced to poetry in third grade by his teacher, Ms. Chambers, who spontaneously decided to practice poetry in their class.
It is very evident that Ms. Chambers holds a very special place in Mays’ influence for writing since he has so many vivid memories of the third grade.
In his younger ages, Mays noted about not being very successful in his language art classes, making him an even more interesting poetic figure.
In my interview with Jovan, he told me a main purpose in his writing was to help people “cross empathize.” This involves social issues that hit close to home so he can use in his art. The way it comes to help humanity is to help “try and get people to understand my perspective or certain perspectives.”
Mays does an outstanding job of this and really gets his audience’s attention which has never been an issue the past three years I have seen him at Littleton. His teachings are so fascinating and appeal to everyone in this society because of their depth. A lot of his poems teach about the wrong happenings in this society with police brutality and bad vices that are present in mankind.
Teachers partake in poetry workshop.
A new poem of Mays’, called Black Boys talks about the heartbreaking stories of black male Americans who have been victims of brutality and have started national outbreaks and the fear of not knowing how to educate his two nephews on the subject. The poem Jovan wrote got around to CNN, prompting them to reach out to Mays asking him about how police brutality is here in the Denver area.
Mays got some publicity through CNN since they also featured his poem on there and was asked to do a Ted Talk. He even talked a little bit about it during our interview. Mays notes, “In life there are going to be many things that are going to try and write your story for you but you are actually the only consenter to that information.”
Mays visits many schools around the country and especially loves visiting younger kids. Mays told the audience during the workshop, he has recently taken part of a workshop for a specific group of fourth and fifth grade boys who admitted to a school counselor that they are afraid to go outside since they are black. Mays went on to note that the only time they felt safe was right by an adult during their time outside which was recess.