Virginia didn’t always take the long way home; or maybe she did.
She felt apathetic towards time. On her left, she passed by the bakery owned by a dear (as ancient as she was) sweet soul who lived but five houses down the narrow street from her. She watched the run-down, yet popular rustic building fade into the blackness of the evening as she continued her drive.
She was a darling old woman. Virginia would often stop by her equally ancient home and lounge in the parlor with a sweet cup of tea prepared with too much sugar. She would never complain though; she treated the taste with the same apathy as time.
Wow. What was a dream is becoming a reality. I’m part of a youth spoken word team heading to Brave New Voices, the largest youth poetry competition in the world. Where? To San Francisco.
Who are we?
We are Liam, Dakota, Jonahs, Matt, Nita and Shannon. We are him and her and her and him and her. We are everything and everyone manifested into six teenagers.
If anything, it feels as if we are underestimated. We’re just six kids from Asheville, NC. We shouldn’t have that much to say, right? Wrong. We have fought and worked hard for the opportunity to go to Brave New Voices. The name in itself perfectly describes who we are. We’re brave because we are among the few teens who dare to address the issues of our society. We’re new because we are the first team ever invited from Western North Carolina. Though our voices are unique and far from the same sound, we all achieve the task of representing our generation.
As I’ve mentioned before, Brave New Voices is the largest youth poetry competition in the world. Youth Speaks created Brave New Voices in 1998 with four cities from across the United States. In 2011, 84 cities applied to the worlds largest youth poetry event. As featured on HBO, Brave New Voices is both a festival and an international network of organizations committed to youth voices. There will be poetry competitions, workshops and networking with amazing young poets from around the world.
We have a lot of work ahead of us preparing new poems and performances and we’re all committed to rehearsing twice a week this summer. Fortunately, we have two great coaches: Heidi Freeman, Creative Writing Teacher at Asheville High and Steve Shell, slammaster of Poetry Slam Asheville and a teacher at Eliada Homes in Leicester.
We’ll also be doing a lot of fundraising—because our journey will cost us our team around $5,000. Already, TOPS Shoes in Asheville has agreed to sponsor the team but we need more generous sponsors and people who will either come to our planned fundraising events or contribute to our Fundrazr campaign which will be launching in a couple of days.
June 5 at the Magnetic Field, 6:00pm, Old School Vs. New School—adults poets from Poetry Slam Asheville will slam with the winners of Asheville WordSlam and the LEAF Youth Poetry Slam including me!
June 13 Downtown News and Books will include youth poets in their anniversary celebration and donate some proceeds to our cause.
June 23 I’ll host a fundraiser at the Black Bear Café in Hendersonville—look for more details—coming soon!
June 29 An evening with fabulous Glenis Redmond, Jonathon Santos, and our team—place and time TBA.
We’ll be featuring brave new voices all this month—some spoken word poetry—an interview with a local teen artist, interviews with a local teen movie star and more—because we find our voice not just in poetry but in all sorts of artistic expression.
Stayed tuned on facebook for all the latest news.
Yours in poetry,
Shanita Jackson, Spoken Word Editor
Justice. To fully know the meaning behind this seven letter word you'd need to know the antonym. Injustice― wrong, inequity, iniquity, unfairness, racism, prejudice, racial profiling, Jim Crow, slavery, Amendment One. The list goes on and on. Injustice will never die because people and history will never stop repeating itself. As injustice continues going strong, justice continues to increase and somehow a balance is formed between the two. But, concurrently, sometimes injustice can never be balanced out. Like Trayvon Martin. Wearing hoodies and carrying around Skittles and Arizona tea isn’t going to restore his life or take away the sorrow of his parents. Like poverty. Some schools only rescue the few lucky kids from the ghetto to simply reach their yearly quota. Like the ever increasing rate of suicide. What amount of justice can erase all of those tear stained final notes? What amount of justice can untie all of those perfectly practiced nooses? I don’t think there’s an answer that suffices.
At Asheville Wordslam a few weeks ago, so many teens bravely took the mic to share their voices on the injustices they’ve observed and experienced — the judges, Micah Mackenzie, Lucia Doherty White, Jonathon Santos, Steve Shell and Matthew Mcdonough said they were both “blown away” and inspired to hope. So many in the audience said the same.
In the next few weeks we’ll be sharing some of the videos from that day on Trill. For me, the only type of justice I can fully agree with is Poetic Justice. And who accomplishes that? Poets. Through workshops, through slams, through open mic, poets have the ability to heal. We don’t have the ability to reconcile what is already lost, but we have the means to mend what might be broken in the future. That is true justice. That is the only justice I know.
Spoken word performance at Asheville Wordslam. Photo by Sierra Pierce
What does your justice look or sound like? Send us your poetry, your stories, your art, your photography—join us for justice. And, join Trill on Saturday, May 26th, 7pm at the Firestorm Café in downtown Asheville for Poetic Justice: An open mic evening of youth spoken word poetry. Sign up at 6:45.
Nita Jackson, Spoken Word Editor
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