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Desdamona is a writer and an engaging performer who works in the realm of Spoken Word and Hip-Hop. She stumbled upon the art of spoken word as an outlet for her lyrical expression. As a student, the opportunity to experiment and create helped to develop her identity and self-esteem. When she struggled in some areas of school, art led her through and gave her something that made her feel powerful. “It taught me to adapt and change and this ability is one that has benefited me greatly in life.” She loves to share her work and also learn about students and what they are interested in so that together they can create something that makes them feel powerful.

In the classroom, Desdamona’s process is one of learning where students are at and beginning there, providing inspiration, guidance and scaffolding in the art form of Spoken Word and Hip-Hop. Des has worked in over 300 schools throughout the Midwest and France, and has led workshops and residencies in Shakopee Women’s Prison, Stillwater Prison, Oak Park Prison, Red Wing Juvenile Facility, the Juvenile Detention Center- Minneapolis, and Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, WA.

More About the Artist

Desdamona is an international award winning artist who has received five MN Music Awards for her music and poetry. She has been awarded three Minnesota State Arts Board “Artist Initiative” Grants and the “Verve” grant from Intermedia Arts and the Jerome Foundation, a recently won a Knight Arts Challenge Grant to Produce a Spoken Word Festival in Lowertown in 2017. She is a co-founder of B-Girl Be, a celebration of women in Hip-Hop that brought women from across the globe to the Twin Cities. She continues to create spaces for women to express and create. Des has toured the US and abroad, releasing multiple projects on French record label Hope Street/Nato records and has shared the stage with Saul Williams, Ursula Rucker, Guru, Wyclef Jean and KRS One. She collaborates regularly with Hip-Hop artist and beat boxer Carnage, and is a part of the European-based band Ursus Minor.

In April 2016, Des released a solo project entitled No Man’s Land, featuring an all-woman cast. The CD also includes a small collection of nursery rhymes with illustrations. As part of the life of this project, she leads workshops around the idea of creating nursery rhymes that speak to modern times. 

Learn more about Desdamona in her May 2019 Artist Spotlight Interview.

Program Offerings


Developing Your Voice through Spoken Word

In this one-week residency that focuses on process, students explore their voices through a variety of approaches.

Day 1: Storytelling and Community Building! Students get to know Desdamona, the goals for the week, and each other through storytelling exercises that get everyone to open up, see commonalities, and find value in sharing their thoughts, ideas, and stories.

Day 2: Identity Development! Desdamona leads students through an identity prompt. Options include I Am Poems about people, places, and things (emphasizing imagery and specificity) or Affirmation Poems.

Day 3: Poetic Forms! Students explore their voice within the constraints of a form poem. Form poems can emphasize rhythm, rhyme, process, etc. Options include haiku poetry, cascade poetry, blackout poetry of a text the students are already familiar with, and more.

Day 4: Poetry and Social Justice! Students explore an issue in their community through a refrain poem. Texts used for inspiration include nursery rhymes, popular music, youth slam performances, and or the poetry of Amiri Baraka.

Day 5: Final Edits, Sharing Your Voice, and Reflection! Students use this last class to finalize one piece to share with the group. Sharing can be informal or a community event can be planned. Evaluation/feedback through discussion or surveys can also be included.


Strengthening our Community through Spoken Word

This workshop will provide new avenues to explore community issues through spoken word poetry. With inspiration from a text tailored the learning community, the group will discuss community issues and write new work that shines a light on those issues.  Texts often used for inspiration include nursery rhymes, popular music, youth slam, and/or the poetry of Amiri Baraka. The workshop will end with a sharing of the new work.


“Desdamona is a true gift to any school that she enters. She meets the students exactly where they are, respects the process that they go through, and encourages incredible growth and courage. She is highly receptive to ideas and willing to go the extra mile for the students and teachers.”

Sarah Plumb, Teacher, Oak Hill Montessori


COMPAS is an arts education nonprofit that puts creativity in the hands of Minnesotans, regardless of their age, background, or skills. Based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, COMPAS teaching artists deliver creative experiences and arts programming across Minnesota.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.