Words, Beats & Life Festival brings poetry, music, workshops to DC area all week long

This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Part 2 arrives on Tuesday afternoon.

DJ Pete Rock spins at the 2023 Words, Beats & Life Festival in D.C. (Victoria Ford)
WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Words, Beats & Life Festival (Part 1)

The Words Beats & Life Festival kicks off this week in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

That means an entire week of poetry, music and workshops here in the DMV!

“Words Beats & Life originated in 2002 as a program that our founder and his co-founders were doing at the University of Maryland and it evolved into what would eventually become a 501(c)(3) organization,” Words Beats & Life Academy Director Donney Rose told WTOP. “WBL has five different pillars to it: arts education, creative employment, centering marginalized voices, this idea of ‘for the culture,’ and cultural diplomacy.”

The lineup kicks off Monday with the “DMV Youth Poet Laureates In Concert” at the Busboys & Poets in Arlington, Virginia. You can also participate in a dance workshop by Taylor Matthews titled “The Blue Note: A Choreopoem” at the Eisenhower Rehearsal Studio at the Kennedy Center in D.C.

Tuesday brings the “U Street All-Star Reunion” to the Busboys & Poets at 14th Street, Northwest D.C., as well as a dance workshop with Chitra & Neverless titled “Grovoes & Party: A Hip-Hop Celebration” at the Eisenhower Rehearsal Studio at the Kennedy Center.

Wednesday brings “We’re ALL Immigrants” to Busboys & Poets on K Street, Northwest D.C. and a dance workshop by Amirah Sackett titled “Hip Hop: Funk Styles” at the Eisenhower Rehearsal Studio at the Kennedy Center.

Thursday brings “Dynamic Duos” to Busboys & Poets in Hyattsville, Maryland, as well as the “Baltimore Poets Invasion” at the Busboys & Poets in Columbia, Maryland. Meanwhile, Sunken Cages will perform with dragonchild and Faraway Ghost on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in D.C., followed by a rooftop afterparty with Farrah Flosscett, Miss H.E.R. and Coco Spinelle on the Wild Days Rooftop at Eaton D.C.

Friday brings the “Cosplay Open Mic” to Busboys & Poets in Brookland, D.C., as well as “An Evening with Saul Williams” featuring the renowned poet and actor at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in D.C.

Saturday brings the “Slamtastic Semi-Finals” to Busboys & Poets on 14th Street, Northwest D.C., as well as “The Combine Literary Decathlon” at Eaton House on K Street, Northwest D.C. You can also head to Eaton D.C. for “Remixing The Art Of Social Change” and the “Waiting Room 2040: Interactive Exhibition.”

It all culminates Sunday with the “Jazz & Blossoms Park Jam” hosted by the DowntownDC BID, featuring performances by the Grammy-winning hip-hop trio Digable Planets, as well as Sun Ra Arkestra at Franklin Park on I Street, Northwest D.C.

In addition to the festival, Words, Beats & Life also brings education to local classrooms as creative electives throughout the year. Stay tuned to WTOP for a follow-up piece on that exciting aspect of WBL.

Find more information on the festival here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Words, Beats & Life Festival (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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