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15th Annual Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival: Where Performance Poetry and Modern Social Change Meet Oral History

[Norfolk, VA]—The vibrant convergence of poetic expression, civic engagement, and authentic voice takes center stage at the 15th Annual Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival. This celebrated event series, a staple in Hampton Roads's cultural landscape, has evolved into a dynamic platform that empowers young poets to amplify their voices, foster social change, and showcase their boundless creativity.

The Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival is more than a local event; it's part of a national network of youth literary arts and creative youth development organizations, including Urban Word, New York; Words Beats and Life, Washington DC; DewMore, Baltimore; Southern Word, Tennessee; and Youth Speaks San Francisco with alumni including Amanda Gorman, the Poet for President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2020.

The festival also provides young poets who are civically engaged with the opportunity to vie for the prestigious Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) title. This title honors their poetic prowess and propels them to compete in the Eastern Regionals and potentially the National YPL Competition. Prestigious judges include former Virginia Poet Laureate Tim Siebles; Cherryl is President of the Poetry Society of Virginia. Dayana Lee Hampton Roads YPL Alumni, National Performing Artist; Delegate Jackie Glass with other leaders in education, the arts, activism, and government.;

Beyond competitions, the festival season is enriched with many school and community-based workshops, and five premier events where young writers grace stages throughout the region with their electrifying performances.

Yet, the essence of the festival transcends mere words; it's about fostering connections among young people from diverse communities, backgrounds, and perspectives. It's about creating a supportive environment where poetry becomes a tool for social change and collective empowerment. These young poets, or as we call them, artivists, unite around their shared love for words, forming a bond that extends far beyond the confines of language.

Join us at the 15th Annual Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival and experience the power of poetry to transform lives and communities.

Festival Events -

  • On March 22, 2024, from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm, Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach hosted "Living History". It is a unique opportunity for youth to connect with living legends, the alumni of PACTS/UKHS, the first African American High School in Virginia Beach. They shared firsthand stories and passed the torch to the youth.

  • On March 30, 2024, from 12 pm to 3 pm, Virginia Wells Theatre in Norfolk will host "Crossing the Street". Teens from all over Hampton Roads will come together to bond, create poetry together, attend master classes then perform their pieces on stage.

  • April 5, 2024, from 5 pm to 8 pm, Perry Glass Studio at Chrysler Museum will host "Hampton Roads YPL Adjudication". The event will feature live teen glass-blowing demonstrations, teen DJ, and youth competing to become the next Hampton Roads YPL.

  • April 6, 2024, from 12 pm to 3 pm, Virginia MOCA Museum will host "Virginia YPL Adjudication". The event will feature live teen performances, teen DJ; and youth competing to become the next Virginia YPL.

  • April 7, 2024, from 12 pm to 3 pm, Norfolk Botanical Garden will host "VAYPL & HRYPL Commencement". The event will celebrate youth poets, and dignitaries will announce the winners.

  • Finally, on April 27, 2024, 11 am to 1 pm, Virginia Wesleyan University's Susan Goodman Theatre will host "Immortal Finale". The event will feature re-interpretations of local oral history through the lens of teens' experiences with current events through performance poetry. Featuring The Hampton Roads & Virginia YPLs.

Teens With a Purpose was formed in 1996 by Deirdre Love. In 2007, Teens With a Purpose became TWP-The Youth Movement, a 501(c) (3) non-profit youth development organization. The organization is celebrating over 26 years of experience in providing peer leadership training and has been recognized both regionally & nationally. For additional information, please visit VAyouthlaureate.org; TWPTheMovement.org, Call 757-747-2679 or email info@twpthemovement.org





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