Friday, April 03, 2009

brave new voices on HBO

this week I was able to attend the Los Angeles premiere of the new HBO television series. Shout out to Tanya Young who was extremely welcoming and warm with love and support and of course Shihan ;-) whose subtle awesomeness is often under rated. As for the screening, they showed the first two episodes of a seven episode series called Brave New Voices. I am in the first episode at the NYC Urban Word FInals where the making of the 2008 New York City Urban Word team took place. It was a beautiful evening and always brings me back to my year of slamming in 2005 at Washington Irving high school. I found the documentary-style film to be interesting and I look forward to seeing where it goes. It brought back many memories from my year of slamming in the Youth nationals and in many ways made me think of all the youth slammers before me, who will see this series as their mouths drop in awe of how far this movement truly has come, all the banging on doors and ears and walls praying that we would hopefully be heard by the masses... Had it not been for Brave New Voices in San Francisco and the experiences and friendships I made there, I honestly don't think I could have ever even imagined pursuing my aspirations and dreams so vehemently. I really believe there is some type of energy harvested at youth nationals that is incomparable to any other space or time. It is something to see it on television but what I hope this series inspires in people is the motivation to support and visit these types of events and poets.

Poetry has been a movement long before this show but what this show unveils is its depth and ability to express what only emotion endures and these young people are willing and open to the possibility of exploring their repressed emotions which then makes the educational process rather accessible. Spoken word and performance poetry has its own internal logic as with many arts. In light of this, I hope it helps to look at the art form as a means of healing. Surely, that is what it has been for me and countless other young people. I grew up before many people, performing and sharing my experiences as openly as I possibly could through language and stage presence and it has proven to save my life and at times to even explain a small part of my purpose and existence. I truly believe we all long to be understood and maybe simply, only to relate, to engage with each other. This series will hopefully open a small door where Def Poetry did not to the people behind poems, behind the audience and stage, to the growth and process of development.

Coming up through organizations such as Urban Word NYC has fostered a type of creative and work ethic in me that has made attaining my dreams and goals seem tangible. With mentors that give often so much of themselves it is incredibly magical to witness. Shout out to Queen Godis, she is truly a gift from some heaven where we store our hearts. Also, shout out to Celena Glenn, my personal inspiration and the reason why till this day the Urban Word NYC 2005 slam team is the only reigning NYC team to win Brave New Voices nationals (hopefully that changes this year ;-)

Some people may not know how necessary it is to be validated when you are young let alone period where often you are made to feel as though your voice does not matter and has no relevance to the adult realm but what I hope this series will do is invite people to see a bit of what has been taking place at Brave New Voices competitions with young people for years now...Be weary, the teller at your local bank, the teacher at your local public school, the student at your private college, the man sitting next to you on the train, and even the prison mate at your neighborhood facility... they may have all very well been a youth poet participating in competitions much like Brave New Voices, stirring souls of thousands and these voices may never get the recognition they deserve but they have inspired some life changing experiences. They are the real people that made Obama possible and even an expectation. Change did not simply occur overnight, no, it was a long before written poem scribbled in the notebook of some kid you never even thought twice to pay attention to... May we learn to listen to our youth differently and to read our spirits through their stories. With all that being said, check out the series. In spite of all the beauracracy behind the series and the commercial realm of things, I think this can be something positive for us to look to. I have my issues with certain individuals who have made it a point to monopolize off these young people's stories but let you be the judge and hopefully you will remember us not for our emotional vulnerability but for the fire it has ignited and the passion we have made with its embers...




HBO presents

Brave New Voices
A 7-episode series highlighting the voices of 21st Century America

Narrated by Queen Latifah

Airing on HBO ll PM ET/PT Beginning Sunday, April 5th

"Without language, we are nothing." -Jamaica Osorio & Ittai Wong

All over the United States, a new generation of poets is emerging. This new HBO series captures teenagers picking up the pen and taking hold of the microphone with passion, intelligence, creativity, honesty and power. These voices of 21st Century America transcend race, class, gender, orientation, and red state/blue state politics as they show us all what the next generation of leaders looks and sounds like.

Brave New Voices is a new seven-part series that features teenage poets and their mentors from San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Santa Fe, Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu and Ann Arbor as they prepare for Youth Speaks' 2008 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Finals.

These young poets represent a growing national movement featuring thousands and thousands of teenagers writing and performing spoken word as a way to have voice in their communities and in the nation as a whole. These are the Brave New Voices and the organizations that support them.

The youth represent an amazing blend of spoken word, hip-hop, poetry, music, power, voice, imagination, and more. Brave New Voices sheds light onto this largely unseen world, putting an honest spotlight on some of the most dynamic young adults in the country.

The 2008 Brave New Voices Festival (BNV) was held in Washington, D, just three months before the presidential election. In the shadow of the White House, America's youth challenged each other with words and ideas.

For five outspoken days in July 2008, over 500 talented teen poets and spoken word artists from teams around the country joined together for workshops, poetry readings, late-night cyphers, political organizing, and of course, to vie for top honors at the National Youth Poetry Slam. They came from urban, rural and suburban areas, from the Deep South, Native American reservations, Hawaii, college towns and even from across oceans. Their backgrounds were diverse, yet they shared a passion for opening minds and hearts - starting with their own..

For many of the poets, the BNV festival was an eye-opening, life-changing experience. They left their family, got on a plane, performed in front of a crowd of thousands and found new opportunities for growth and friendship beyond borders. Equally life-changing was the four-month journey to get ready for the festival.

Eventually, one team rose above the rest to become the 2008 National Youth Slam Poetry Champion. But all were winners.

Join us for this unique four-month journey and listen to the Brave New Voices of today.


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