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More Than Words – Youth Poets

NORFOLK, VA– What happens when you blend poetic expression with civic engagement, when authentic voice is cultivated and imagination has no gate keeper? The result is the 14th Annual Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival. This staple series of events begins in January with the opening of the application process for Hampton Roads & the inaugural Virginia Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) Recognition Programs. Together they provide young poets who are civically engaged with access to the title of Youth Poet Laureate and the opportunity to move on to compete in the Eastern Regionals and possibly move on to the National YPL Competition. The season also incorporates school and community based workshops; virtual information sessions led by past YPLs. Plus four premiere events where young writers convene on stages throughout the region.


But the festival is about a lot more than words; it’s the intersection of young people from different communities, ethnicities, orientations and ideologies bound by their love for words forming their poetic justice. The energy is electric. From the audience screaming out their support of one another or the hush that falls over the crowd when silence is the only appropriate response to vulnerable expressions. They are not competitors rather a support system hanging on each line and verse as if it was the air they breathe. Their poetry speaks to their civic and social engagement deeming them artivists. They become one crew bonded around more than words – pure poetic expression!

The Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival engages young people throughout the Commonwealth. They come to listen and BE HEARD. The organization is a part of a national network of youth literary arts & creative youth development organizations including Urban Word, founder for the National Youth Poet Laureate Program, Young Chicago Authors and Youth Speaks San Francisco.

Teens With a Purpose’s Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Program now serving Eastern Shore, all of Hampton Roads through Chesterfield County giving more youth the opportunity to apply for both the local and statewide program both of which are the only gateways for Virginia youth to possibly become National Youth Poet Laureate. This year, at the invitation of National Youth Poet Laureate Founder Michael Cirelli, TWP has launched the Virginia Youth Poet Laureate Program, supported by Virginia Poetry Society, funded in part by a grant by the Virginia Humanities Foundation, championed by Urban Word with broad support and collaboration locally. (see flyer)

Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival is TWP’s mission on full display. Their mission is to create a platform to empower young people to use their voices, creativity, reflection and action to effect personal change, impact their peers and community through the arts and peer led programs and events. Teens With a Purpose 14th annual Hampton Roads Youth Poetry Festival is your front row seat to lean in, listen and HEAR THE FUTURE NOW!

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