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Thank you to all who attended the Lipstick University Poetry Reading! 


Stay tuned for the next session of Lipstick University, coming Winter 2021


Special thanks to 

Brooke Brown Barzun and Matthew Barzun

Fund for the Arts Black Artists Fund

for their generous support


Lipstick Wars Poetry Slam




in partnership with Louisville Literary Arts

Illustration by Minimalish Studios

Calling all poets, ages 18 & up

fridays, OCTOBER 2,9,16,& 23

6:00-8:00 PM     Live & on Zoom     FREE

This session is full

Learn from an all-Black collective of champion poet performers!

This workshop series is designed to empower, educate, and inspire writers and poets interested in learning or strengthening their skills in the radical art of spoken word poetry and performance. Through a variety of approaches, we will demystify what it means to be a writer and reinforce the interconnectedness of a writer’s choices when crafting a poetry performance. 

Participants will:

  • Work closely with prominent poet performers. 

  • Discover how to shape a poem -- breath by intentional breath.

  • Watch, listen, and learn from contemporary slam winners and finalists.

  • Workshop and rehearse their poetry.

  • Study the connections between sound devices and literary techniques. 

  • Gain an understanding of their own writing as a social and interconnected dynamic artform.

  • Perform their spoken word poetry in a virtual poetry slam on Halloween!



Friday Oct 2

SLAM 101: The Power of Language

Instructor: Lance G. Newman II

Poets are introduced to what spoken word is and what poetry can do. We explore the ways in which different communities use creativity and innovation for social progress, and discover what art has been formed out of oppression and necessity. Writers begin to identify and describe slam performances by their poetic devices and crafted language choices. 


Friday Oct 9

Begin to Shape + Look for Patterns [Line, Breath, and Vision]

Instructor: Shasparay Lighteard

In this workshop, writers learn to shape their poems, moving from their generative free writing to a more crafted work of art. We learn how to shape a poem, line by line, breath by intentional breath. 


Friday Oct 16

Intentional Craft + Patterns [Sound, Imagery, and Description]

Instructor: Nelly Jay

Poets discuss and discover the interconnectedness of sound(s) and image(s). We learn how to employ various poetic devices (such as imagery, alliteration, allusion, hyperbole, and more) to strengthen the lyrical quality of our poems and poetry performances.


Friday Oct 23

Performance [Grounding, Breath, and the Body] 

Instructor: Radi Shaw

Poets explore how words are enhanced by embodied performance and movement. Everything connects to how we present on stage. Our images and sounds can also reflect, echo, and mirror in our rhythm, tone, and body.


Friday Oct 31


Host: Lance G. Newman II

4 Classes + Slam: What you can expect to learn each week

4 classes + slam

Presented by Lipstick Wars & Rheonna Nicole

In partnership with Louisville Literary Arts

With thanks to the Fund for the Arts Black Artists Fund 

meet the collective:


Rheonna Nicole

Founder & Producer of Lipstick Wars Poetry Slam & Lipstick University

Rheonna Nicole is a spoken word artist and writer from Louisville, KY. Her poetry is a direct reflection of her. Bold, black and unapologetic about its existence. She created Lipstick Wars Poetry Slam, an annual competition that offers a soapbox for women, trans women, and girl poets all over the nation to speak out against injustice and celebrate womanhood through the art of slam poetry. Rheonna has been a featured speaker at The National Council of Negro Women's Martin Luther King Jr. brunch, Girls IdeaFest, World Festival, Kentucky Women's Writers Conference, Louisville Literary Arts InKY Reading Series, and the Indiana University Poetry Festival. Rheonna and her work has been featured in Today's Woman Magazine, Leo Weekly, Insider Louisville, The Courier Journal, Spalding University’s Art & Literary Hotel journal. She has won  multiple poetry slams in Lexington, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Brooklyn. Most recently, the Women of the World Poetry Slam ranked Rheonna sixth place amongst ninety-six female spoken word artists in the nation. Rheonna continues to use her voice to break down barriers, motivate and uplift people, encourage victims of body-shaming, and celebrate black uniqueness through poetry.


Ashley Taylor

Curriculum Developer

Ashley Taylor, a poet performer and MFA candidate at Spalding University’s School of Professional and Creative Writing. Ashley is an educator who designs diverse, collaborative creative arts workshops; more at


Lance G. Newman II

Week 1 Instructor

Lance G. Newman II, also known as Mr. SpreadLove, was raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a writer, poet, host, actor, and a performing, visual, and teaching artist. His experience is the culmination of a sixteen-year career performing around the country. He regularly facilitates creative writing and public speaking workshops using spoken word poetry for public and private schools, community centers, and organizations in and outside of Louisville. He co-hosts the largest and longest running poetry slam in Louisville, created the public art “LITS Project” on Fourth Street, and has been featured in newspapers, commercials, and feature films. 


Shasparay Lighteard

Week 2 Instructor

Shasparay Lighteard is a Black, queer, performing artist from Austin, Texas, with a  B.A. in Theatre and a Minor in African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2018 they were the 10th Ranked Spoken Word Poet in the World. She was a recipient of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Full Tuition Scholarship, a speaker at the 2016 TEDxYouth Austin conference and is a National NAACP ACT-SO Gold Medalist. Shasparay has been a finalist in national and regional slam competitions such as Women of the World Poetry Slam, Southern Fried Poetry Slam, Texas Grand Slam, and is the two-time Lip Stick Wars Poetry Slam Champion. Shasparay has been featured on Button Poetry, Youth Speaks, BuzzFeed, and Huffington Post. She has been published by Planned Parenthood and Our Lives Magazine. Shasparay is the founder and producer of the Black Arts Matter Festival, created to uplift Black artists in predominantly white areas. The festival featured over 40 Black artists boasting audiences of up to 400 people in its first year. Shasparay is currently working at Union Theatre as an Artistic Director where she plans to hold a virtual Black Arts Matter Festival in the Fall.


Nelly Jay

Week 3 Instructor

Nelly Jay is a Chicago-born, Louisville-cultured, Brooklyn-living child of Jamaican immigrants. Despite all of the places she's lived, she has always brought her poetry with her. She currently teaches middle school while also coaching high school students of color through their own process of finding their voice in activism and bringing text to life. As one of her favorite poets Kwynology says, Nelly is a "poem trying to person." She competed in the first Lipstick Wars making the top 8 out of 16 poets and has competed and performed in slams and open mics all over the country. She loves the art of writing. The ability to heal and deal through spoken word has been a joy of hers since she started in the 3rd grade. She attempts to bring her artistry into every classroom, auditorium, or debate she enters. In an effort to empower folks, especially queer black women into using their voices for advocacy, Nelly leads a group call Melanin Minds that encourages high school students of color to use scholarship by black and brown writers to inform their activism. She is so excited to be working with these poets during the Lipstick University workshop, and hopes to be able to spark a little advocacy and healing in all of the attendees. 


Radi Shaw

Week 4 Instructor

RADI is an artist, award winning poet, and teacher specializing in spoken word poetry, performance art, and workshop facilitation. Her work covers topics such as civil rights, body/sex positivity, colorism, and sexism, while reflecting her real life experiences as a plus size lesbian Black woman. Competing for 6 years, RADI has had the honor of representing five national poetry teams, including three in her home state of New Jersey. She has traveled all over the world performing in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, California, Antigua, and many more. She is based in East Orange, NJ and has been teaching since 2009.

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