DETROIT – The 2016 InsideOut Citywide Poets Detroit Youth Slam Team was in Washington D.C. this past weekend to compete against 500 youth poets from across the country for the 19th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.
The team was assembled according to the member's ranking in a citywide poetry slam competition held in downtown Detroit in April.
"Representing Detroit means showing that we have powerful voices that need to be heard and stories that are unique and meant to be told. I’m excited that to have a chance to prove the,’’ said young poet, Eldric LaRon Parks, 15.
The festival consisted of five days of intense workshops and competitions for young poets across the country.
The students, who are members of Citywide Poets in Detroit, meet weekly at locations around the city to work on the craft of writing and performing works of poetry taken straight from their lives.
"My city taught me what it means to survive, despite," Ashley Rae Carson said.
Detroit’s 2011 team placed fourth in the world at the Brave New Voices Festival.
"This squad wrote some of the most important, fearless Detroit praising poems, that I've ever worked with," said Coach Justin Rogers, a member of the 2011 BNV team. "As a coach and former CWP team member, I’m proud of who they accomplished with their earth shaking words."
Prior to traveling to the District of Columbia for the competition, the 2016 team performed at Third Man Records in Midtown, Detroit. The students shared heartfelt poems that ranged from topics about urban violence to a poet's balance between the love of her home country and its unconventional customs.
It’s exciting to compete but I hope that it helps me become a better and more experienced poet. It is important that I use it to improve myself," Wes Matthews, 15, said.
The nonprofit behind the movement, InsideOut Literary Arts Project, relies on a combination of donations from individuals and major sponsors.
InsideOut is currently operating a summer edition, open to 13-19 year olds every Saturday in July and August at their main branch.
The poets placed an impressive fourth in the qualifying battles. They did not advance to the competition's final.