A week filled with poetry at Brave New Voices

eoak0515blogger01.jpg Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. There are three more weeks left before school starts again and I have nothing planned for the rest of summer.

Summer Update

Three weeks ago (July 14th-July 20th), I flew down to Washington D.C. for a poetry festival called Brave New Voices. Brave New Voices is the biggest youth poetry slam in the world. (A poetry slam is a competition at where poets read/recite/perform their original work). There were poets from all over the country and a couple from Leeds, England, Trinidad & Tobago, and Worcester, England. We were all in teams and each team consisted of 4-6 poets. There were about 400 poets at the festival in total.

Honestly, I did not think I was going to make any friends in Washington D.C. because I am not very social and I thought the whole week was going to be about the competition. After arriving and unpacking into the Potomac house, I walked down the hall and was immediately greeted by a couple of poets. I thought it was really, really weird for them to talk to me and invite me into their rooms to cypher. After my first night in BNV, everything I thought about the people there was wrong.

From July 15-16, we were relaxing, attending workshops and had a poetry event about Global Warming. From July 17-19, we all slammed. Everything that week was crazy; there were Open Mics and cyphering circles at 2 a.m., the poetry quality was crazy, and the lack of sleep everyone had was crazy. On July 18, we had a protest in a park in front of the White House called “Hear From The Children Left Behind.” There were over 100 poets getting on the mic that day just to tell the government what we had to say. On July 19, we had the Grand Slam Finals in the Lincoln Theatre.

Before that day, I’ve never shed a tear for poetry. You really have to be there to know what I mean. This was honestly the best week of my life and I’ve made some great friends that I will never forget.

Here are a couple of links with videos/pictures:

Videos (Youtube) -You can find more videos by youtubing Brave New Voices 2008

Before Brave New Voices

This summer, before Brave New Voices, I was writing and editing my poems non-stop. There were literally days where I’d wake up at 9 a.m. and write, edit, and get/give feedback until 9 p.m.

After Brave New Voices

It’s been three weeks since Brave New Voice ended and I am still not used to not being so busy. I don’t have anything planned for the rest of the summer so I’ve been relaxing and watching videos from D.C. School is starting up again so I will try to make the rest of my summer productive. Please send over any advice for me for what I should do for the rest of the summer.

I know that this is probably the longest blog ever so thank you for reading!


  • Katy Murphy

    Sounds like a cool event, Bryant. Maybe you can share some of your work with us someday (hint, hint).

  • Nextset

    It’s not clear what year this srudent is going into – I assume he will be a senior.

    I’m wondering if this trip is sponsored in any way by OUSD – or is it private? Did teachers go as Chaperones? Did parents go? How was the trip financed? How many students (if it was a student trip) went, what age ranges and what requirements were met to go, was the trip open to any student with the $?

    Having asked all that I’d go on record as saying that any travel that can be facilitated by schools is a great thing. In State, Out of State, Canada or Europe would be a great thing for students to be able to do.

    Chaperones, controls, supervision and financing are such problems I believe these trips are unusual for urban school districts such as OUSD. Too bad. It’s intimidating being responsible for the deportment and safety of a dozen or more of other people’s adolescents. I’d love to hear more about how such a project was conducted.

  • Sue

    According to the intro Katy gave him on his first blog entry, he’ll be starting 10th grade in a few weeks.

    I Googled “Youth Speaks’ Bay Area” (another reference from his first entry), and this doesn’t seem to have any affiliation with OUSD or any other school district.

    That doesn’t answer the questions about how Bryant got to go – he does say something about qualifying for a team though – or how the trip was paid for and chaperoned.

    But it was awfully easy to answer the first couple of questions, and makes me suspect that if I’d done just a few more Google searches, like “Brave New Voices” or “Hear From The Children Left Behind”, I bet I could have answered more.

    But it’s time to go home and pay attention to my own children, so I’m not going to research Bryant’s summer poetry slam any further. I’ll leave that to Nextset (If he’s really curious, now he has some guidelines for finding his own answers.), or to Bryant to answer the remaining questions if he chooses to.

  • Bryant

    Thank you Sue for answering some of the questions.

    I’m wondering if this trip is sponsored in any way by OUSD – or is it private?
    This is not necessarily a private trip. OUSD and SFUSD both help advertise for the Youth Speaks’ Bay Area Slam in March by having their school Poetry Slams.

    Did teachers go as Chaperones?
    Teachers did not go as chaperones. Each team was given a coach/mentor and a co-coach/co-mentor.

    Did parents go?
    A couple parents attended the trip to

    How was the trip financed?
    The trip was financed by Youth Speaks (and HBO this year).

    How many students (if it was a student trip) went, what age ranges and what requirements were met to go, was the trip open to any student with the $?
    Everyone that went to D.C. was either a student, volunteer (over the age of 17) or a coach/mentor because the age limit was 13-19 (for the team) but not everyone was from OUSD. A lot of the other students that got to go was in SFUSD and/or a local college. That’s speaking for the Bay Area team, of course. Students with the money could attend the festival (free festival + open to the public) but they were not allowed to participate in the competition. If a student really wanted to get into slamming, writing poetry, or going to next year’s Brave New Voices, they can make their presence known to the organization by attending the free workshops, slamming, volunteering, interning, etc. There are students that get invited for a free trip to Brave New Voices if the organization sees consistent participation in them.

    I hoped I answered your questions.

  • Courtnei

    I was there too. I myself am not on a slam team; even though I would love to audition for one; but my uncle’s team, Slam High from Rochester, was participating. I completely understand your wave of emotions over the event, I too was touched beyond any prior experiences. Well, what I was really wondering was do you have any idea when the event will be shown on HBO? I have been enlightened by the experience ever since I left, and I’m really anticipating the chance to relive the week. If you could get back to me at courkicheers@aim.com, I would appreciate that beyond belief.
    Thank you!

  • Courtnei

    I am so sorry I left the t off of the end of your name.