There was a relaxed anticipation in the air on Sunday afternoon, moments before Decatur Book Festival’s annual Teen Poetry Slam and Open Mic was about to start. For many, it was the first time being a part of the teen poetry slam, but the audience quickly filled the DBF Teen Stage tent, ready to hear the voices of young people.
Though the teen poets may have been nervous, some were in for a treat as Alysia Harris, an influential spoken word artist and poet, herself, made an appearance. There was speechlessness and tears as she made her way to the front of the stage. For participating poets, Harris may have taken some of the edge off, but either way, all of the poets seemed eager to spread the messages their poems have to offer. Topics ranged from the image of black men and women in society, today’s tragedies, to dress code and feminism. The event co-hosted by Atlanta nonprofits VOX and Verbalyze was a spectacular afternoon filled with youth culture, creativity and awareness.
The audience clapped and woo-ed as the poets performed. Then the slam’s hosts, Josh Stewart and Cole Jones-Ford from VOX’s Atlanta Word Works introduced RCA Step (the Ron Clark Academy Step Team) and Amauri The Great performing from Soul Food Cypher. I had never seen anything like it: spoken word and stepping together. The children’s facial expressions and energy gave life to the performance and wowed us all. For the Open Mic, there were not just spoken word artists, but musical artists, including Amauri The Great, a teen rapper who shared his message of spreading love.
Events like this remind everyone that teens do a have a voice — a loud and creative one at that. Every performer showed up and showed out in presenting their poetry and music. They spoke on topics that adults probably don’t realize affect teens, or that teens would be vocal about. More and more each day, teens are involved and outspoken. See you at Decatur Book Festival, next year!
VOX invites your original poetry, stories and art, too! Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and include your name, age, school (if applicable) and contact information. To participate in Atlanta Word Works free poetry and spoken word workshops at VOX, contact Sarah@VOXAtl.org.