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Courage to Pursue His Dream Brings the Opportunity to Enrich a Community

Tim BlightonSearching for a Fit

After working in a variety of vocational fields, Tim Blighton found himself lacking the career satisfaction he desired. He had always enjoyed art and as a teen he discovered a passion for poetry. But growing up in a working class family that appreciated art without embracing its potential as a career, led Blighton to pursue other areas outside the creative sphere in efforts to be “successful.” 

While Blighton had taken a variety of classes at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) to discover his vocational passions, he decided to cut his education short to pursue an opportunity as a restaurant manager – one that would ultimately leave him continuing to search for a career that really fit his personality.

“Creativity can be applied to any problem, any job,” Blighton says. “But the kind of creativity that serves me best is art. I loved waiting tables, and while serving can be an art, it wasn’t the art that I was looking for.”

Rediscovering Dreams

It wasn’t until years later when Blighton came face-to-face with the reality of his daughter graduating from high school and going off to college to earn a degree in graphic design that he realized what he had been missing. He witnessed his daughter’s desire and dedication to pursue her artistic dreams – why shouldn’t he do the same?

“That was a loud, bubble-gum-popping-in-your-ear-five-thirty-in-the-morning wakeup call from the hotel front desk,” Blighton says. “I told her we could go to college together, even if she was going to attend out-of-state and I would be returning to MCTC. We could share our collegiate experiences.”

Expanding Horizons

Blighton now studies English and Spanish at MCTC and serves as a leader in WANDA, the student writer’s group on campus. Through the relationships he’s built and the learning experiences he’s had on and off campus, he has recognized a need for a richer creative space – an environment that encourages students to reach beyond their writing niche into the art of blending a variety of artistic genres, ultimately creating a broad community of artists.

“Written poetry is a derivative of oral traditions, including singing and acting,” Blighton says. “To distill our lives into one medium is often hard and solitary work. Art needn’t be solitary.”

As Blighton discussed his ideas with MCTC English instructor Steve Healey, Steve suggested he connect with Tish Jones, an MCTC student and Spoken Word artist, activist, educator and organizer. Jones has a passion for using the Spoken Word art form as an educational tool to enrich her community and is a strong proponent for creating work borne out of the artist’s personal experience.

Together, these individuals have organized a series of Spoken Word workshops at MCTC entitled Don’t Cuff the Mic! to educate the public about the power of this unique art form.

“Events like this one help build community,” Jones says. “They provide people with an entry point into the art form and a way to get some of their questions answered, as well as learn about the technical pieces of the art which lend themselves to many literary and performance devices and techniques.”

For Blighton, the opportunity to work with Jones means the chance for fellow MCTC students to expand their understanding on what it means to be an artist.

“Teaming up with Tish Jones for Don’t Cuff the Mic! is perfect for [our student group at MCTC],” Blighton says. “It doesn’t just promote poetry; it promotes performance art.”

Don't Cuff the Mic! is a series of Spoken Word workshops lead by some of the Twin Cities’ premiere Spoken Word artists: Guante, Desdamona, and Tou Saiko Lee. These award-winning, nationally and internationally renowned, multi-talented poets also performed their work at a grand finale Open Mic on April 12 as part of MCTC’s Helland Center Grand Opening activities

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