For the sixth consecutive year, Hampton Roads youth shared their stories with an international community of spoken word artists. About 450 young poets from around the world were in Philadelphia this past week as part of the 17th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam competition and conference.
The Hampton Roads Youth Poetry team is an assembly of talented youth poets that won the right to represent this region by competing in Slam Fest, Teens With a Purpose 6th annual Youth Slam Poetry competition held throughout Hampton Roads. Their three month intensive preparation for Brave New Voices included workshops, community service, open mics and other performances plus teaching back what they learned as part of the Monday night Teen Gatherings held at the Vivian C. Mason Teen Center in Norfolk.
At Brave New Voices 2014, the competition was last to the life changing experience that happens during these days. From community involvement to building a family, there is much more that occurs then just a competition. Poets and their supportive adults participate in over 23 workshops and events over the course of the week. This year The TWP Youths were able to meet with poet legend, Umar Bin Hassan from The Last Poets, a group of poets and musicians who arose from the late 1960s African-American civil rights movement. The Last Poets are said to have laid the groundwork for Hip-Hop. Umar listened to these young people as they spoke their truths. The poets made a lasting impact on the community; they worked throughout the entire city of Philadelphia planting Urban Gardens.
At the end of the Brave New Voices Festival, fifty teams from as many cities around the country faced off in a tournament of performances in 10 venues around the city. Hampton Roads team faced off with teams from Honolulu, HI, Albuquerque, NM, Tunkahannok, PA, Fort Worth, TX, Philadelphia, PA and Columbia, CT. Although, Hampton Roads Youth Poets did not qualify to move on to finals, one of their pieces, “Don’t Fall in Love with a Poet”, was selected as the Top 15 Best of BNV. A HRYP poem has been selected as Best of BNV for the second year in a row.
Brave New Voices (BNV) was created by Youth Speaks in 1998 after the inaugural Youth Speaks Youth Poetry Slam in San Francisco—the first poetry slam dedicated to youth in the nation’s history. Since that time, Brave New Voices has grown to represent youth from all across the United States. BNV also features International teams from Canada, Africa, the Polynesian Islands, and Europe, making it the largest and most diverse ongoing spoken word event in the world.
Brave New Voices 2014 brought together young, outspoken artists, educators, poets, and emerging leaders to Philadelphia to participate in a celebration of Possibility. This demonstration of free speech, artistic empowerment, and youth voice fosters a community of dialogue, where young people gather, commune together, speak to and with each other, learn about and from one another and model what we believe the people of the world should do to foment peace.