Becca Barniskis | Literary & Theater


Becca Barniskis | Literary & Theater


Becca Barniskis is a poet, performer, and arts educator. For the past 20 years she’s taught poetry to students of all ages and at all educational levels, from Pre-K to undergraduates to adults in public schools, libraries, and community centers. Her poetry is widely published in literary journals and her chapbook, Mimi and Xavier Star in a Museum that Fits Entirely in One’s Pocket, was published in 2013 by Anomalous Press. 

Becca performs regularly as a poet and singer with Downrange Telemetrics, a collaboration with musician Nick Jaffe and others, and in the band Pancake7. Her unique approach to performance seeks to broaden both the definition of and audience for contemporary poetry. Her artistic mission is to promote the idea that poetry is something that everyone can learn to do, and do well, and she leads students to approach language as a plastic medium, much like paint or clay, out of which they can build narratives, characters, and metaphorical structures that are deeply rooted in the rhythmic, sonic and gestural dimensions of language.

Book This Artist
It was an honor for our Grade 4 team, as well as 125 fourth and fifth grade students, to learn from Becca Barniskis. We were fortunate to receive grant money from the Edina Education Fund to host Ms. Barniskis for a two week spoken word poetry workshop in April 2017. During her time with us, she ignited the creative minds of children and adults alike. Through her teaching she modeled divergent thinking, poetic devices, passion and inclusivity. It was her unique style of sharing spoken word poetry that illuminated the minds of many. Each student performance was focused on bringing forth topics/issues that could make a difference in our community and/or the world harmoniously pulling on the heartstrings of each audience member. It was a wonderful way to embrace and share our school motto “Go out and make a difference!”

Becca surely made a difference in all our lives.
— Jolynn Gamble, Grades 1 - 5 Learning Specialist at Creek Valley Elementary, Edina Public Schools

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site’s Needs


Poetry and Performance Improvisation

Becca will collaborate with learners of all ages in large or small groups to create improvised poetry driven by the learners’ interests. They will experiment with language and performance in different ways, and work up to reading and performing their work. They can use instruments such as iPads/tablets if available, and/or improvised sound sources such as desks, pencils, voice to enhance any element of their new work.



Poetry-Improvisation and Composition

Students will explore an improvisational approach to creating new poetry for the page and the stage. Through the residency, students will create and perform original work while exploring the musical and sonic dimensions of the written and spoken word. Students will also explore different means of revising work and ways to reflect on /constructively critique both one’s own work and that of others. This residency focuses on basic poetry writing and revision skills; experimentation with poetic language; poetry performance; and arts integration. Lessons can be adapted for use in conjunction with academic curriculum (arts integration).


Digital Media

Students will work with a tablet or computer-based app like GarageBand and iMovie (or equivalent) to create original pieces that engage elements of writing and music. By combining words and sounds, students will explore and react to curricular content or students’ interests in ways that will surprise even themselves. This residency focuses on basic music and poetry skills, arts integration, and effective use of digital technology in the arts.

(some tech required)