when you lie awake in the evenings
    counting your birthdays
    turn the blood that clots on your tongue
    into poems. poems.

    —Lucille Clifton, from “The Message of Thelma Sayles” 

    • 1 month ago
    • 462

    Brave New Voices, 2013

    "When we come here we don’t bring a stampede of poets, we bring Soldiers." -Cocky Brown Kids by Team Black

    When Team Black walks onto the University of Chicago campus, heads turn. In our matching bright purple Tshirts, heartfelt chant, and ride-or-die entourage, Philly’s Spoken word team enters, ready to meet everyone, to Get Free with their poetry, and to be changed forever. Brave New Voices, an international Youth Poetry Festival, is booming with teams of dedicated young poets ready to compete for their chance at becoming the next Brave New Voices Champion, but the air is anything but hostile.The teams great each other with love, respect, and mutual understanding for the craft. These unfamiliar faces felt more like long lost relatives. They felt like the family we had never known we missed. The best part was knowing they felt the same way. Almost immediately there is a  noticeable feeling in the air that says, “Something beautiful is going to happen here.”
    It takes an incredible amount of courage to bear your soul to a room full of strangers, but it takes even more to do so for your peers. To allow yourself to uncover yourself, fully, is a bravness only seen in passionate young poets. With every poem, whether it be painfull, satirical, or educational, these words are not simply silently muttered beneath glaring stage lights. They are declarations of humanity, not digitilized replicas of the youtube poets we respect from afar. We created connections with real human beings, based solely on our craft. Audiences felt the strength pour off the stage. Poetry has a way of making us feel a little less alone than when we started. It creates connections between people of all different walks of life, it allows us the language to create long lasting relationships.

    At Breakfast on the first day of festivities,  our coach, Vision, waved his hand over two young poets and said “Make Team South Africa feel welcome.” We had no idea how welcome they would inevitably make us feel. Siyabonga and Lerato were sweet and timid at first, just beginning to become accustomed to America, but before any of us knew it we had become family. We did not notice the oceans between us. We did not notice the differences in upbringings. We only noticed how poetry could take our pain and make it so universal that we could find family in people who, at first, are merely strangers. The connections we made with our fellow BNVers, made us feel like as long as we had our Poetry, it doesn’t matter where we are- whether it be Philly, New York, Sacramento, Texas, Toronto,  Denver, or even as far away as South Africa, we will never be alone. We will always find family. We will be changed by these people and we will change them. By the last day, Lerato and Siyabonga were joined by one other teammate, Neo, and the connection between us all grew even faster. When Team South Africa performed on Final Stage, Team Black chanted for them, like we would our own. Lerato, Neo, and Siyabonga, changed us. They changed me. Lee welcomed us like a sister would. Neo open himself up to us, even when there was a chance we would never understand. Sia allowed us to fall in love with his smile, and his intelligence,  and his wonder about the world. If we were to be asked what BNV means to us, we would most likely reflect on our goodbyes. With all of the tears, all of the poems mentioned, and love in the air, all of the numbers exchanged, the Facebook names,  the hugs, the smiles, the laughs, all of the sadness from separating from our new friends, but the happiness of knowing that we met them in the first place,  knowing there is always next year (at our home base in Philly, by the way) is a powerful thing. It is all of those things that make BNV.

    • 1 year ago
    • 14

    BNV 2013. TURNT UP.

    • 1 year ago
    • 7



    “Ambigous” by Becca Khalil and Nayo Jones

    Just came across this whilst browsing CNN online. Spoken word piece on Black America: Who is Black?

    Read more here:


    • 1 year ago
    • 145


    poetry is motion graceful
    as a fawn
    gentle as a teardrop
    strong like the eye
    finding peace in a crowded room
    we poets tend to think
    our words are golden
    though emotion speaks too
    loudly to be defined
    by silence

    sometimes after midnight or just before
    the dawn
    we sit typewriter in hand
    pulling loneliness around us
    forgetting our lovers or children
    who are sleeping
    ignoring the weary wariness
    of our own logic
    to compose a poem

    no one understands it
    it never says “love me” for poets are
    beyond love
    it never says “accept me” for poems seek not
    acceptance but controversy
    it only says “i am” and therefore
    i concede that you are too
    a poem is pure energy
    horizontally contained
    between the mind
    of the poet and the ear of the reader
    if it does not sing discard the ear
    for poetry is song
    if it does not delight discard
    the heart for poetry is joy
    if it does not inform then close
    off the brain for it is dead
    if it cannot heed the insistent message
    that life is precious

    which is all we poets
    wrapped in our loneliness
    are trying to say


    — Nikki Giovanni (via rvichuuuu)

    • 1 year ago
    • 149


    10 Things I Love About PYPM

    Poet lineup before the slam begins.

    These kids.

    THESE kids.

    It’s 1 a.m. after judging 2 poetry…

    View Post

    see what one of our lovely judges from finals, Lillian Dunn (of Philly’s own APIARY) had to say about PYPM <3

    • 1 year ago
    • 26

    Check out the promo video for PYPM 2013 Slam Poetry Finals! (created by Sharvon)

    Saturday, May 4th | 5:30pm | Philadelphia Museum of Art | Hosted by Kai Davis & Jamarr Hall | for more info & tix

    • 1 year ago
    • 18


    Slam Day: A short multimedia documentary profiling PYPM and Philadelphia youth poet, Alex Santiago, produced by Corey McDonough.

    • 1 year ago
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    • 1 year ago
    • 6

#RoadTrip to #NewYork with #PYPM for #UrbanWord #slam #poetry finals at the #Apollo. - #youth #spokenword #mentors #mentoring #Philly #Philadelphia #BraveNewVoices #travel #education #nonprofit #organization #photography #photographer #videography #videographer


    #RoadTrip to #NewYork with #PYPM for #UrbanWord #slam #poetry finals at the #Apollo. - #youth #spokenword #mentors #mentoring #Philly #Philadelphia #BraveNewVoices #travel #education #nonprofit #organization #photography #photographer #videography #videographer

    • 1 year ago
    • 6