Tuesday, March 21, 2017

10 Fabulous Reasons to Attend the 2017 DC Youth Slam Team Grand Slam Finals!

Each year, through a series of poetry slams held throughout the city, Split This Rock selects a team of youth between the ages of 13 and 19 to serve as ambassadors for Split This Rock and the DC metro area as part of the DC Youth Slam Team (DCYST). Members of the DCYST are coached on writing and performance; speak out on social issues; serve as leaders within Split This Rock Youth Programs; participate in youth poetry gatherings such as Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV) where the team took 1st place in 2014; and travel to perform regionally, nationally, and periodically abroad. 

Find out which five brilliant youth poets will be on this year’s DC Youth Slam Team! Join us for the 2017 Grand Slam Finals, this Saturday, March 25, 2017, 7-9 pm at the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater (1101 6th St SW, Washington, DC). Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and $5 for youth 18 and under. Group sales are available. Buy your tickets online today!

Need some convincing to attend? Here are 10 fabulous reasons! Plus, videos from past events like BNV to get you energized for Saturday!

1. Get your hope renewed by the deep wisdom of youth poets!

In the face of a 24 hour news cycle that often leaves us feeling dismayed, distraught, and down-right in despair, the poetry of DC’s young people is a burst of energy, fresh perspective, and hope. Upon hearing their powerful and socially engaged poetry, one thing becomes clear: these youth are not the leaders of the future, they are leading us today into a more equitable, peaceful, and poetic world. Check out Malachi Byrd and Thomas Hill performing Columbusing at Brave New Voices in 2014 to see what we mean! 

2. Help sustain the DCYST as it amplifies youth voices!

Split This Rock’s DC Youth Slam Team provides a space for youth to break through barriers and build their confidence by performing in front of audiences of their peers, the greater DC community, and beyond. Split This Rock Youth Programs provide young people the opportunity to travel nationally and internationally to perform their poetry and spread their messages of hope and resilience. Even when youth perform here in our local community, their words have a far greater reach through performance videos posted online, with thousands of views. The video above by 2013 team, which went viral, has close to two million views! Be among the thousands to be deeply moved by the necessary words of our youth!

3. Find out who'll represent DC at Brave New Voices!

Each summer, the DC Youth Slam Team has the opportunity to travel and participate in poetry slams and open mics, including the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival. Annually, Brave New Voices convenes outstanding youth poets from around the world for 5 days of workshops, showcases, community service, civic participation, and a series of poetry slams culminating in one team of youth poets being crowned  the champions. In 2014, the DCYST took 1st place (see video above of one of their performances at BNV finals). Last year’s Brave New Voices was hosted right here in DC and youth had the opportunity to perform onstage at the Kennedy Center. Come cheer on all the outstanding youth as we find out who'll be selected for the 2017 team and participate in Brave New Voices this summer in the Bay Area.

4. Affirm youth by listening to their experiences and perspectives!

Whether its celebrating culture and community, recounting trauma and healing, naming injustice, professing love, or commentary on Kim K's cornrows as in the video above of 2016 DCYST members, the poetry that youth write and perform onstage takes incredible courage and vulnerability to share with an audience. When a young person writes a poem, practices performing it, and then shares it during a slam, we witness youth empowerment. The slam becomes less about competition and more about the courage it takes to get on stage and speak truth. Come be part of an audience of people reflecting back to the youth onstage that their voices and their perspectives matter!

5. Resist the proposed cuts to arts funding by investing in your local art scene!

Agencies, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, that are being threatened make programs like Split This Rock’s DC Youth Slam Team possible. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right that we value at Split This Rock. Through youth programs, like the DC Youth Slam Team, we witness the power of youth expression to transform the culture of  classrooms, schools, communities, and young people themselves. Lauren May, for instance in the video above often tells us poetry saved her life. Attend and stand with us!

6. Get the teens in your life inspired!

Are you a parent, guardian, auntie, cousin, teacher, youth worker, mentor, coach, or anyone else who works with and cares about young people? Then come and bring a young person along (or a whole group!) to watch their peers perform and get excited about the power of the written and spoken word! Show them that poetry can be fun, like the video above of Morgan Butler and Malachi Byrd. Attending Finals is a great way to inspire the teens in our community and demonstrate to youth that their perspectives, experiences, and struggles matter! Youth group sales are available! Contact Chelsea at chelsea@splitthisrock.org! (Be aware, however, that this event offers space for youth to exercise free speech. Poems shared by youth poets may include profanity and sensitive subjects.)

7. Support youth efforts of resistance!

The youth on the DC Youth Slam Team are aware of and connected to many of the social, economic, and political challenges that adults are discussing each day. Whether it’s funding cuts at schools, street harassment, or the political climate of the nation’s capital, youth are taking part in the resistance and by supporting them and their poetry, we too resist! Give a listen to 2017 DC Youth Slam Team Finals participant Kenny Carroll in the video above for an example.

8. Shatter your misconceptions of youth!

Stereotypes work against all of us, and when it comes to young people, many adults think of teens as being preoccupied only with cell phones and selfies, school crushes and social media. DC Youth Slam Team Finals will introduce any adults led astray by these misconceptions to what’s really going on in the minds and lives of DC's young people, such as Nesha Ruther in the video above. From reclaiming the power of a selfie as an act of self-love, to speaking with wisdom and insight on surviving trauma, these youth prove to us that they have their own voices and the ability to speak for themselves. Let’s support them by showing up!

9. Be part of a youth-led movement of love, acceptance, and empowerment!

Through their poetry, youth invite us into their dreams and visions for themselves, their communities, and the future. Together, these youth poets are leading a movement that includes everyone, where there is space for everyone to be accepted and to thrive. Connecting to the DC Youth Slam Team and Split This Rock Youth Programs helps them build a sense of community and family among their peers. Come feel the love! Prepare for all the goodness by listening to what Amina Fatima has to say above.

10. Get engaged with a community imagining a new world!

Whether you are a poet or not, everyone has the ability to be creative and engage in generating new ideas, new solutions, and new ways of connecting. Attending the 2017 DC Youth Slam Team Grand Slam Finals is an incredible way to join with others and revive your own sense of possibility. Hearing these youth share their cultural, familial, and community experiences -- like Amina Iro and Hannah Halpern in the video above -- helps us build bridges across difference. Feel the transformative power of poetry yourself as we cheer them along and leave with new understandings, deeper compassion, and revived determination to work for change!

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