Phonetic Spit engagements create a brave space that allows students/participants to embrace discomfort while exploring their emotions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as engaging others with the same process. Expression is about an openness to reveal oneself completely, and if used effectively, can be a vehicle to expand worldviews. In addition, expression is a great tool to develop critical life skills. The goal is not necessarily that students become professional poets, but instead develop practical and applicable skills. “If you can break it down on the mic,” says Phonetic Spit Co-Founder Myrlin Hepworth, “then you can break it down in the boardroom, job interview, in a conversation with a loved one.”

The fundamental concept of this framework is to demonstrate how Phonetic Spit workshops create and utilize brave spaces to uphold traditional literacies (reading, writing, speaking) alongside critical literacies (emotional, social, and cultural) with a focus on collaboration & personal empowerment. In the end, the goal is to provide students with the tools and support to develop a belief in themselves and become resilient.



Through Phonetic Spit engagementS, students/participants:

  • Develop, practice, and exhibit 21st Century learning skills: collaboration and teamwork; creativity and imagination; critical thinking; and, problem solving
  • Create narratives to develop experiences and/or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured sequences
  • Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings through interpretation and analysis, and exemplified by their own employment of said techniques
  • Develop and strengthen writing through planning, revising, editing, re-writing, and risk-taking
  • Cultivate empathy and understanding of audience and peers, expanding to communities and interpersonal relationships, with an intersectional awareness
  • Write routinely over extended time frames and short time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences, and with a focus on self-efficacy and self-expression to raise self-awareness and community engagement
  • Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners and topics/texts/issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly while respecting dissenting views, handling them with grace and dignity
  • Perform in front of diverse audiences using voice and tone modulation to help audiences fully experience all emotions of the narrative
  • Memorize several pieces of artistic work and develop skillsets for information retention
  • Utilize all the above skills to provide themselves their own platform to advocate for issues important to them and their communities


Values Breakdown

All Phonetic Spit staff, Teaching Artists, and students/participants L.I.V.E. – meaning, they all embody or are mentored to live out our values of Love, Inspire, Voice, Express.

LOVE: This is the foundation of the organization. Love is a unified connecting energy that provides a nurturing environment. Phonetic Spit envisions love as a verb, not just a noun. It requires lived action to provide inclusion, mentorship, and more with the goal to understand and empathize with students. Phonetic Spit defines Love as the opposite of Hate, and thereby, stands by the following Value Statement:

We are committing to seeking staff, participants, and partners committed to dismantling any laws, dialogue, and actions displacing, demonizing, criminalizing, or discriminating against individuals marginalized within the systematic structures of racism, colonialism, ableism, sexism, ageism, patriarchy, sexuality, and gender.

As we aim to hold others accountable, we also hope to be held accountable to this values as well. As an organization, we commit to continuous learning through trainings, reading, and conversations with individuals, groups, and organizations in our communities.

INSPIRE: The root of our programs is to inspire at any given moment. This means our staff, Teaching Artists, and students are moved to become better writers and citizens, telling their own stories and growing. By utilizing these inspirations and constant momentum, our ultimate goal is to nurture environments, stages, classrooms, and participants that also inspire audience members and communities to become better and more knowledgeable, empathetic people.

VOICE: Everyone has a story – and if that story is not told from that individual’s perspective, Phonetic Spit believes that someone else will tell that story and get it wrong. Thus, Phonetic Spit seeks to help all participants develop individuality of voice or to reclaim a voice they may feel is silenced. Participants are pushed to prevent anyone from taking away their voice. Phonetic Spit works fervently to prevent anyone from being re-written, to instead promote students, particularly marginalized students, to develop agency and ownership of their own intersectional identity and develop self-awareness. Students are pushed to craft a message and work towards self-efficacy.

EXPRESS: No matter how much an individual may know their own voice, it might be difficult to express that voice. Express is all about developing a skill for conveying that voice externally and making it known to the world with power and self-control. It is about confidence despite anxiety, resilience in the face of adversity, and authenticity valued above all. Phonetic Spit is dedicated to crafting expression that falls within these expectations.