The best youth poets from around the world took center stage at the 18th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival for a week of workshops, performances, and inspiration from July 15th – 18, 2015. This year’s festival was held in the Cultural Mecca of the South – Atlanta, Georgia. Powered by Youth Speaks Org., the festival invites young peoples to take part in as many as 20 workshops and 50 events in just a few days. As featured on HBO and multiple media outlets, Brave New Voices give a platform for young people and their poetry.
Teens With A Purpose very own (HYRP) Hampton Roads Youth Poets competed for the 8th consecutive year. The team spent several months fundraising for this event and practicing Monday through Saturday with additional practice and community performances throughout the year. Hampton Roads Youth Poets 2015 team consisted of Dawn Marie Pinckney, Malik Jordan, Rolph Tima, Makhosazile Gabisile Sijabuliso Ncube McClain, Donovan Pollock, Nia Naomi Johnson, Dayana Lee, Jasmine Kiah, Captain Khayla Walker, Coach Emiley Allison, Shawn Waddell, and Mentor Nathan Richardson.
This year’s team was a special team because it consisted of almost all rookie poets to the Brave New Voices experience. Another special moment for the team was during the opening ceremony where Teens With a Purpose members had another premier opportunity, as they were selected to be a part of the festival’s opening ceremony for over 500 young poets, coaches mentors and entourages from around the country and as far away as Ireland and South Africa. Hampton Roads, Jasmine Kiah performed her winning poem for the I Want To Live contest. Richard Love, Teens With a Purpose Creative Program Coordinator and Brave New Voices Alumni performed his original song On Second Thought all within a magnificent church setting on the campus of Emory University, the site for the Opening Ceremony and I Want To Live presentation.
The next day teams attended the youth town hall on “Us Versus Who?: Protecting Our Communities” which was on relationships with the community/police this sparked an intense but positive discussion amongst the Hampton Roads team and teams across the nation. The teams attended workshops facilitated by poets like Jasmine Mans “Miss Education of A Black Girl”,Sunni Patterson “The ‘-ing Practicing Presence Beyond The Stage Calloway” and a Hip Hop workshop with MC K Swift. All of these workshops built knowledge and ignited confidence preparing youth to speak on topics they considered as “urgent” in their lives. They learned the concept of “Get Free Stay Free” meaning tell your truth, in life and in your poetry. Hampton Roads Youth Poets managed to a pull a second and first place at their two bouts which pushed them into the Semi’s round which was a major accomplishment for the team. (HRYP) Hampton Roads Youth Poets has not been on Semi’s stage since 2011 so overall it was a major blessing to the team. “We’re trying to make it too semi’s or at least get a piece of semi’s” was a quote from the group “The Sensitive Poet” piece that helped the team score high enough to make it to semi’s. The team faced a vigorous final slam with teams from the east and west coast including Philadelphia Youth Poets Movement, Sacramento California Poets, Greensboro North Carolina Poets, and Chicago Illinois youth poets. After the finals of Brave New Voices all the teams including (HYRP) we’re able to let their hair down and dance the night away at the after party held in honor of the hard work at the fest that week. “It was sad goodbye leaving all of the friends I made at BNV… so excited for next year” was a quote from Dayana Lee on the night of the after party when she knew she’d be departing the next morning.