I am a HUGE fan of poetry. And I love the way that Spoken Word Poetry has literally breathed new life into a beautiful art form.
Let’s face it, there was a time there when “the powers that be in our schools” tried to kill poetry.
Tried to bludgeon it.
Tried beat the joy of reading or writing poetry out of every student who dared to cross through their halls.
And yet, poetry survived in spite of school, not because of it. (Trust me, I was there when all this happened. It was hurtful and it was ugly… and I am still scarred.)
Yet today I come with GREAT NEWS. My good friend and fellow co-writer for two of my book projects, Hip-Hop Poetry and The Classics for the Classroom as well as The Poetry Jam, just… well… I’ll just paste the news release down below.
I mean it’s not like you don’t stand a good chance of hearing about it anyway. After all, HBO is going to show it in prime time in the fall.
If you don’t know the work of Michael Cirelli, poet, author, executive director of Urban Word New York City, you ought to.
He is bringing poetry into American classrooms in a way that that is fresh, dynamic, rigorous, phenomenally exciting and deep. These kids are simply awesome.
Congrats on the victory, Michael… you really are blazing new territory.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mikal Amin Lee (212.352.3495)
URBAN WORD NYC WINS
Brave New Voices International Teen Poetry Slam
Featured on HBO this Fall
Los Angeles, CA – The six young poets from the award-winning literary arts organization, Urban Word NYC, took the crown this weekend at the Brave New Voices International Teen Poetry Slam. Over the course of the week-long festival, the New York City teen poets bested 51 teams from across the U.S. and abroad, were undefeated in all preliminary and semifinal competition bouts, and went on to win the Grand Slam Final at Los Angeles’ historic Saban Theater. The finals were hosted by rapper/actor Common and actress Rosario Dawson, and documented by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons’ production company for an HBO special to be aired this fall. The teens representing Urban Word NYC were Justin Long, 17; Jesica Blandon, 17; Jay Davis, 17; Ishmael Islam, 18; and Sean B, 18. They were mentored and coached by award-winning poet and mentor Mahogany Browne and youth alum Carvens Lissaint.
“This year’s team made us proud because they authentically represented the values of our organization. The poets were humble, honest, brave, and exhibited a commitment to writing, performance and community that was unmatched,” commented Urban Word NYC’s Executive Director, Michael Cirelli. Winning teen poet Ka’Mone Felix reflected, “It was such a blessing to bring our voices and integrity to the stage, and
represent our home, our city.”
Back in NYC, the team will be engaged in various readings and public service projects to give back to their communities. They will also be performing at a welcome back celebration and showcase on Wednesday, August 11th at The Point in the Bronx to raise funds for Urban Word’s after school writing workshops and college prep courses for teens.
For more information and opportunities to book these poets visit www.urbanwordnyc.org
All poets, coaches, mentors and staff are available for interviews.