A look inside the 17th Annual Youth Speaks Grand Slam Finals held at the newly renovated Nourse Auditorium in San Francisco. Thank you to every poet who left their heart on stage — we are still learning from your story and inspired by your raw truth(s). Be sure to check out the full album on our Youth Speaks Facebook page to see complete coverage from this powerful evening of storytelling! You can also listen to the poems on our YouTube page. All photography courtesy of Ashleigh Reddy.
An olympic style competition to identify the best MC’s in the Brave New Vocies community. The competition features local heavyweights, DJ’s and MC’s as well as diverse voice from around the world. Each year we search for an MC Champion, ARE YOU THE ONE?
Visit www.youthspeaks.org for more info
Every year, Youth Speaks presents over 500 hours of free writing and performance workshops to hundreds of teenagers in locations across the Bay Area. A place for artistic and critical growth, the free writing and performance workshops focus on different aspects of writing, from fiction, playwriting, and poetry, to performance, desktop publishing, and poetry slam.Workshops are taught by leading poets, writers, spoken word artists, and cultural activists, and typically run in 5 to 10-week blocks. Each workshop is open to any teen 13 – 19 years old (unless otherwise noted). All workshops are free and no registration is necessary.
Visit http://www.youthspeaks.org for more information!
“You tell me who I’m supposed to be
You tell me how I’m supposed to behave
‘Cause see it’s hard for me to manage me
Because I’m split
I feel like half kingdom
have some pride - no - have shame”
- RAW Talent poet mentor, Donte Clark, closing out this year’s Bringing the Noise for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Check out Donte and RAW Talent this February in their debut theatrical production, Te’s Harmony.
Remember your tongue is made of muscle:
able to lift a whole people with the strength of its hopeful
and that the idle of words would only wake weakness
behind the prison it makes of your jaw.
Remind yourself that you were born like this:
The Creator of the universe
whispered breath to your being
carved a source for your speech
and gave sound to your speaking;
Nothing unused remains for long.
Remember the legacy giving faith to your lungs:
Those who come before you
plant songs in your sleep,
whose footsteps you mimic
who had you summoned from the mustard seed of your mother
they with hands clasped together in their desperate
waiting for some savior of their children
worthy enough to be the outcast
in his / her homeland.
Your voice is more resource than reservoir:
your throat will not be made to a gas chamber of words
fermenting like last month in your mouth,
that there will be no hindrance
in your fluency to talk
truth has a way of keeping secrets public
Remember the music of your insides and not how it comes out:
That your native tongue
should feel like home and hood
settled between your teeth
should bury its bags into your gums
and vow to never leave
something about the way you speak
accentuates the steep of your soul
Remember the traffic
of air in your chest, when fear froze you.
remember not being able to move or swallow or say anything.
Blank staring statue in your most off-guard moment,
how we confront ourselves in silence like hermits,
praying in a language only fit for the ears of God.
Sometimes when you shout
it only gets people to hear
how loud you are
Energy is neither created nor destroyed
but transferred from word into work.
There are voids in life that cannot be filled with verbs,
and if you’re not doing anything,
you’re not doing anything.
and that nothingness
will quiet you.
Do not bite more than you can chew at once,
is the easiest way to stifle yourself.
and that out of breath behavior
will force silence down your mouth
Don’t pretend you’ve found
something precious enough
to lose yourself in pursuing it.
Whatever you commit to with words
will bind itself to you like
the hinges of your bones
and hold you accountable
despite the disclaimer you come up with.
In twelve months of being in transit
to the woman my spirit was waiting on me to become,
there’s just something about pressure
that forces you to breathe through your mouth,
I’ve just learnt
to speak again.
poem by Anaya Jahzara