Friday night was the second preliminary slam for YouthSpeaks Seattle held at The Rainier Valley Cultural Arts Center. And it was all kinds of hot.

Youth poet Amanda with YouthSpeaks Master Mind, Angela Martinez-Dy

Youth poet Amelia with YouthSpeaks Master Mind, Angela Martinez-Dy

The youth slam is my favorite poetry series in Seattle and the best way to spend a Friday night. The poets last night did not disappoint!

The night was packed with poetry. 12 poets in round 1, 8 poets in round 2 and 5 poets in round 3. The top three poets go on to the YouthSpeaks Finals being held May 15 (hosted by me!)

youth poets Messiah and Dakota Camacho

youth poets Messiah and Dakota Camacho

Because there were so many performers, I can’t do a recap of the slam justice. I can say that I was astounded by the level of talent in our youth slam scene. These kids rip it so hard! Anyone who can go to a YouthSpeaks event and remain untouched is, quite simply, heartless. Do not miss the next youth slam!

Christa Bell featured with a portion of her show CoochieMagik. Christa gained some new fans last night. She commands the stage. She got so many standing ovations during her set, I lost count. My favorite line, “I don’t write poems anymore, I just write scripture.”

Roberto Ascalon and Christa Bell

Roberto Ascalon and Christa Bell

I’m going to tell you which poets will advance to the Finals, while stressing that the points really aren’t the point…the point is the poetry. And the poetry Friday night was the reason we all spend way too much time on this stuff. However, at the end of the night, the poets advancing to the YouthSpeaks Finals and a chance to be on the Seattle Youth Slam Team going to Brave New Voices are:

1. Roxie

2. Julia

3. Messiah


I was lucky enough to attend the finals night of Brave New Voices (the national Youth Slam) last summer in Washington, DC. The event was filmed by HBO for broadcast. The best moment I’ve seen in a stage performance was at the end of the show when all of the finals stage teams of youth poets from all over started mixing it up and hugging each other. The execs from HBO didn’t get all the shots of the teams they wanted and asked this kids to all get back in their groups and (in effect) reenact the moment the winners were announced. There was a minute or two when it seemed like the kids might do it and then an ensuing stand off in which HBO didn’t have a prayer. The kids refused to “fake it for the cameras” chanting “One team, one team,” and “one mike, one mike.” The film crew relented, the kids cheered, I cried in the audience and felt humbled once again by the honesty and power of the youth.We poured out into the street for cyphers, chanting, go-go style pounding on all available surfaces. It was a good night for our nation’s capitol.

YouthSpeaks is one of the hardest working and most effective youth arts organizations in the city. It is so effective because there is a strong bond within the commuity of writers served by YouthSpeaks and a tight partnership between youth and mentors. We are all fellow writers and we all have the love.

All of this is possible because of the work of Angela Dy. Angela is an inspiration as a grass roots arts organizer, artist, teacher and all around good soul. Angela runs YouthSpeaks with soft spoken power and boundless commitment. Since Angela got her start through YouthSpeaks, she knows first hand the transformational power that writing has for young people. Even though she probably wouldn’t admit to it, she is the woman behind the curtain.

Angela Dy

Angela Dy, in front of the curtain

One response to this post.

  1. Last night the Youth Speaks semi-finals at the Museum of Modern Art in San Fran! Check my blog for a review!Youth Speaks rocks!
    Tamam Kahn


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