On January 11th, 2015, youth voice were heard and celebrated in song and poem as part of Norfolk’s grand opening celebration weekend for the Slover Memorial Main Library. Teens With a Purpose delivered the kick-off of the 2015 Youth Poetry Slam Season and their TWP Power Tour that highlights the power of youth expression.
Power Tour combines the Just Aart Concert Series led by TWP’s Music Made Simple with the 7th Annual Hampton Roads Youth Poets Slamfest with events being held from January 11th through May 22nd 2015. The poetry festival prepares young poets to compete and represent Hampton Roads on a world stage during the world renowned Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival.
But this weekend, brave youth poets, singers and musicians from all over Hampton Roads took the stage at Slover Library and allowed themselves to be free and vulnerable through their thought provoking, heart reaching songs and poems touching on topics from domestic violence, the education system, the tobacco industry to their struggle for acceptance.
Over 150 people attended this event: Dayana Lee, 16, Landstown High School, Jasmine Kiah, 18, Churchland High School, Elijah Judson, 15, Norfolk Home School, Ashaunti Horton, 15, Indian River High School, Chozin Johnson, 15, Ruffner Middle School and Donnovan Pollock, 17, Granby High School, were the competing poets.
The concert artists included Creative Program Coordinator for TWP, Richard A. Love, Marvin Parker, TWP member and upcoming positive rapper, Eugnaymae Guinn-Bailey songwriter, musician and vocalist Churchland High, Kabrina Boyd Dancer and ODU Student, and Briana Brown, Dancer and Senior at Norview High plus several other supporting young artist who demonstrated social consciousness and artistic vigor to foster community dialogue and creates an atmosphere that invites young people to speak, read and write and to critically analyze their world then take action to help make it better.
The listening audience included Roger Chesley, Editor for Virginia Pilot along with Shonda Buchanan, poet and Hampton University Professor, both of whom will help select Norfolk first Youth Poet Laureate this Spring. Brenda Andrews, Editor and Chief of New Journal & Guide, who is a collaborative partner for the Youth Poet Laureate Program, also lent her time as a judge for literary building, spoken word competition segment of the event. Ty Lorenzo, Face of Fox 43, hosted the event with poet Godchild the omen and Hampton Roads Youth Poet Coach Nathan Richardson.
The Norfolk Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Teens with a Purpose, Hampton Roads Youth Poets, and in partnership with Urban Word, supported by PEN Center USA and the Academy of American Poets. The Norfolk Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, and leadership and education across Norfolk.
From January 1-February 28, Teens with a Purpose will accept submissions from young poets, rappers, leaders and activists ages 14-19 from across Norfolk who are interested in representing Norfolk as the inaugural Norfolk Youth Poet Laureate.
A group of esteemed judges will select one teen to be honored with the title of Norfolk Youth Poet Laureate on Friday, April 3rd at Old Dominion University Theater.