JUST 30 HOURS LEFT!! Youth Speaks Online Fundraising Campaign

We need you to give today so we can reach the $5,000 goal of the online campaign to send our slam team to Brave New Voices poetry festival. Time is ticking away, with the deadline tomorrow, Wednesday, June 6th at 11:59PM PT. Meanwhile, the team prepares for BNV, writing collaborative poems, polishing their performance, and chopping cinderblocks in half with their metaphors.

Please support our incredible team of poets to travel to San Francisco and represent Seattle in the BNV international youth poetry festival! CLICK HERE to donate NOW!

www.indiegogo.com/seattleyouthspeaks

For a sample of their work, watch team member Troy Osaki’s poem, “Pistol”:

Film by Avi Loud, poem by Troy Osaki with musical score by Graham Davis, Willem De Koch, Andrew Imanaka, Davis Woolworth, and Ian Zapolsky.

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Stepping Into My Power

This story was written by Henry Luke, Arts Corps alumni and Youth Speaks Seattle coordinator.  Youth Speaks Seattle became a program of Arts Corps in 2011. This article was originally published in Arts Corps’ latest magazine and annual report which can be found here.  

In 2008, I walked into my first poetry slam. I had never been to any event featuring spoken word. When I heard the word poetry, I thought of dead white men like Shakespeare and Robert Frost. I never expected to enjoy poetry, let alone perform it.

Henry at the 2011 Grand Slam Finals. Photo by Kari Champoux

When I arrived, people were laughing, dancing, and freestyling. I wanted to know them! Itwas an atmosphere of spontaneous energy and emotion that I had never experienced before. At the time, very little felt sacred in my life, but when the poets began performing I felt a kind of reverence for the power of their words. The audience clapped and snapped their fingers, gasped and shouted, even cried. I was moved by the power of a poem to pull me into a story, make me feel so many emotions in a few minutes. I had never seen anyone declare themselves like that, to get onstage with nothing but their story and say “This is who I am! This is what I believe in!” I saw nothing ironic or self-conscious in their celebration of life and love. Each word was a piece of their truth.

My introduction to Youth Speaks Seattle coincided with a massive change in my worldview: I realized I was a part of many massive and unjust systems that disconnect and silence people I know and love. At the same time, I came to see myself as a fragment of something even larger, an interconnected universe filled with meaning and mystery. Poetry became the piece that tied everything together: when writing, I never had to compartmentalize the personal and the political. Performance gave a sensation of release, speaking my stories into existence made them that much more real.

At Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam (the national Youth Speaks gathering), I met poets from Philadelphia, Honolulu, San Francisco, New York, and Guam. I sat twenty feet from Bobby Seale as he spoke about the founding of the Black Panthers and compared it to the work Youth Speaks does today. I have realized spoken word is not just an art form. It is a movement. There are young people across the world speaking their truth and creating spaces where that is safe to do. We are storytellers of our generation.

Today when I hear the word poetry, I think of my friends, I think of myself. And my journey continues in my new position at Arts Corps as the Youth Speaks Seattle Coordinator.

I am honored to hold space for other young people across Seattle to express themselves and step into their power, whatever form that takes.

Youth Speaks Seattle’s 2012 Slam Series Info:
Feb 10, 7pm @ Harambee: 316 South 3rd St, Renton
 
Mar 2, 7pm @ Theater Off Jackson: 409 7th Ave South, Seattle
Stay Tuned for Details on the Wild Card Slam and Grand Slam Finals here!

 

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