Hampton Roads Youth Poets (HRYP) invited east coast spoken word youth to visit Norfolk for a retreat which took their power of poetry to the street for activism and community service. Stage to Street included the Philly Youth Poetry Movement for a day of community service, bonding, beach party and poetry. There were about 25 young spoken word artist participating in Stage to Street. The retreat is the brain child of 19 year old HRYP Captain, Emeka Onyirimba of Norfolk who has been a member of Teens With a Purpose since the age of 12. “This will be a great opportunity for us to relinquish ourselves as competitors and see ourselves as human beings, as friends. We would like to use this opportunity to establish strong networks between organizations and give every poet the opportunity to see the impact their words can have on the community in a non –COMPETITIVE format,” said Emeka Onyirimba.
The retreat, called “Stage to Street,” started at the Vivian C Mason Teen Center in Norfolk where youth poets mingled over breakfast then they served as volunteers at the African-American Impact Fair where there were over 30+ vendors, HIV/AIDS screening and much more held at Hunton YMCA in Norfolk. The young people served their gift of spoken word to the audience and encourage the guests to get tested. These young poets ended their day with bonding time at Community Beach in Oceanview in Norfolk. The Philly Youth Poetry Movement was featured on Soledad O’Brien’s CNN Black In America documentary series entitled; Who Is Black In America? The PYPM coach “Vision” was one of the ten finalists on CNN’s Hero’s 2013, besides that, PYPM are the 2011 champions for Brave New Voices.
The Hampton Roads Youth Poets travelled throughout the US to represent the voice of the Hampton Roads youth and all unheard youth. The first stop on the HRYP adventures was Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. Lastly, they traveled to Chicago to represent at Brave New Voices, an international youth poetry festival that brings together over 500 youths from around the country and around the globe. Young people at Brave New Voices attended workshops, completed community service and held inspirational spoken word events at major theaters throughout Chicago. Nation-wide smaller events such as; Teens With a Purpose are held by affiliated organizations to prepare the youth in their region for the unique experience of sharing an international stage with other spoken word activists. Poets come from all parts of the country and the globe like Guam, Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, Jamaica, South Africa and many other places.
Hampton Roads Youth Poets, hold their practices on Thursday evenings at the Vivian C Mason Teen Center.