RECAP: The 2017 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series FINALS

Thank you. For the fifth year in a row, the Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series Finals bout was an unforgettable testament to the talent, wisdom, and power of Minnesota youth.

Performing in front of a SOLD OUT McGuire theater (in the Walker Art Center), the final 12 poets from the series left it all on the stage, sharing their stories, their opinions, their values, and their art. It was an evening of deeply personal work, fearlessly political work, adventurous and surprising work, and honest work.

The final six: Lana, Armand, Harun, Amir, Asher, and Katherine!

When the dust settled, the top six (in no particular order) were Armand, Asher, Katherine, Lana, Amir, and Harun. Now, these six poets will form the 2017 Be Heard cohort, both engaging in performances and civic engagement opportunities throughout the state, and representing Minnesota at the 2017 Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam and Festival in San Francisco this July.

Thank you to the Walker, especially Walker Teen Arts Program (WACTAC). Thank you to the media present– from our partners Ubuntu Media and Uche Iroegbu, to Twin Cities Public Television and KRSM radio.

Thank you to our judges: Carolyn Holbrook, Neil Hilborn, Dua Saleh, Andrea Jenkins, and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria, all incredible, inspiring artists. Thank you to our DJ: DJ Just Nine. Thank you to our host as well: the incomparable Danez Smith.

Thank you to our feature, Tony the Scribe, as well as both of our sacrificial poets– both Isha Camara and Simone Williams qualified to compete, but had to drop out of the competition due to schedule conflicts arising from their getting accepted into the First Wave program at UW-Madison. They’ll be joining current TruArtSpeaks youth advisory board member (and former Be Heard team member) Duncan Slagle at UW this Fall, and the whole TruArtSpeaks family is both honored to have worked with them and excited to witness what comes next.

Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, youth advisory board members, and everyone who simply pitched in to help make the event (and the whole series) happen. Thanks to all of the parents, guardians, teachers, and community supporters who continue to power youth voice through their donations, their support, their mentorship, and their applause.

Finally, thank you to the poets. When we say “the point is not the points, the point is the poetry,” we mean it, and we know you do too. Thank you for your bravery, your perspective, and your heart. Let’s keep building.

Check out this slideshow for just a taste of how it all went down. All photos by Uche Iroegbu:

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