|Posted by Danny on February 5, 2013 at 8:50 PM|
This week we shine the spotlight on Joe Robbins, a first year student concentrating in Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings.
Tell us a little about yourself as a writer.
I first began writing as a child and have not stopped since. I remember writing my first song in elementary school, then transitioning to rapping in high school. I continued rapping in college, where I was a Creative Writing and Judaic Studies double major. The focus of my Creative Writing major was fiction and I alternated between writing fiction and writing song lyrics before switching to poetry almost exclusively towards the end of my college career. I continued writing poetry after graduating and became involved in the New York poetry scene when I moved to New York City in 2009. I am currently working as a professional spoken word artist, in addition to being an active participant in the Poetry Slam scene. My debut collection of poetry, One Man Gang was released in January 2012 and I am currently working on a second collection entitled, Love Loss.
How does your passion for writing intersect with your interest in Jewish education?
Going back to my days as a high school rapper in Northern California, my goal as a writer has always been to be heard. My official rap logo included radio waves intended to symbolize the transmission of my thoughts and ideas to my listeners. Once I became an educator, my goal as a writer became reaching and teaching as many people as possible. In addition to writing many “Jewish Poems” with content relating to Judaism comprised of Jewish History, Jewish Nationalism and Torah, I perform in non-Jewish settings around the country wearing a Kippah, outwardly identifying as a “Jewish Poet.” I also spend a lot of time working as a teaching artist in various classroom settings, leading writing workshops of my creation for students of all ages. The majority of the work I do as a teaching artist is now done in Jewish settings including Synagogues, Hebrew Schools, Hillel houses and Jewish youth group conventions.
What has been the most valuable/useful tool/skill/knowledge/growth you've gotten from your time at Davidson so far?
More than anything, the relationships I’ve forged at Davidson have been the most valuable part of my experience thus far. I have had the chance to connect with great professors who have broadened my horizons and supported my aspirations and endeavors. I have also met wonderful classmates who have enriched and enhanced my experience. In the years leading up to my enrollment at Davidson, I spent a year learning at a yeshivah in Jerusalem, before receiving my Masters in the Teaching of English from Columbia Teachers College. Having the opportunity to synthesize my Jewish and educational knowledge and backgrounds in a Jewish Education program has been invaluable, as well.
What would you like to do when you graduate?
While I am not sure exactly what I would like to do when I graduate, I know that writing, educating—and using my writing to educate—will remain a staple of my life for years to come. I cannot picture myself doing anything other than educating in some capacity and I cannot imagine losing writing as a passion—even if it does not remain my profession. Between my strong Jewish Identity and all of the work I currently do with Jews of all ages, I definitely see myself educating within the Jewish Community.
Do you have any upcoming shows? Where can we find out more about your poetry?
I will be performing at Columbia Hillel’s Shabbat Dinner and Oneg Shabbat this coming Friday, February 8th. I am currently booking performances, teaching artist sessions and artist-in-residencies at Jewish venues and settings across the country. For booking information please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.