Nationally acclaimed poet, Oompa, hosts WordStock
Oompa, a nationally acclaimed spoken word poet and rapper, hosted WordStock workshops, a performance, and "Slam in the Dam" as part of Minot State's 11th annual NOTSTOCK, a festival celebrating the arts.
During Oompa's poetry workshop, she greeted students with, "The first thing I want to establish is—youth are lit and everyone can write poetry."
Oompa grew up in Boston, Mass. and graduated college with an education degree. After teaching middle school math for two years, Oompa ultimately decided to pursue music and poetry. While working in education, she started writing and fell in love with the art.
"I woke up one day, having loved the energy I had put into [music and poetry] and it just got harder and harder to go to work every day. I had already decided what I wanted to do and it wasn't [teaching.] I was like, if I'm gonna do a service to the kids that I love and care about, then I gotta go and I gotta go do the thing that makes me alive," Oompa said.
Oompa left her job in June and has toured approximately 50 schools.
When asked how she wove the issues important to her into her work, she responded that she usually starts the pieces with a purpose of starting a conversation. She values honesty in her work, which discusses gender, sexuality, and race, creating pieces that are thought-provoking and relatable.
"What I aim to do is to be as honest as possible. I think representation matters. I've never been able to see all of myself in someone who's doing art or in some place to look up to, so my hope is that I can do that," Oompa said.
During her time at MSU, Oompa created an accepting environment where students were allowed the opportunity to see themselves in their own work and perform the raw poetry they wrote in the workshops with success in the classroom and on stage during the Slam in the Dam.