The Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam series is a space for young people in MN to tell their stories, share their ideas, and be heard. It is also an annual competition that seeks to identify a cohort of six poets, residing in Minnesota, between the ages of 13-19, to be mentored in writing, performance, and arts leadership throughout the year and serve as state representatives at the annual international Brave New Voices youth poetry slam festival.
Be Heard is a three-tier program. Tier one is comprised of three levels of competition. Preliminary slams are free, open to the public, and serve as the entry point into the process. Poets can compete in an unlimited amount of prelims until they advance onto semi-finals. Semi-finals follow prelims and consist of those participants that earned the highest score in each of the preliminary bouts. Finals serves as the cumulative event, comprised of the top scoring poets from both semi-final events. The final bout determines which six poets will serve as the cohort for that year.
The second tier of the program involves two components: team-building and fundraising. From the date of finals, up to the Brave New Voices festival, the Be Heard team goes through a rigorous training process. They are co-coached each year by a consistent pairing of two professional poets and exposed to various local and national Spoken Word artists on a continuous basis to prepare them for the international festival. Simultaneously, the Be Heard team is fundraising for their journey.
The third and final tier is the festival itself, Brave New Voices. A week-long festival in which over 500 young people from across the globe gather, with their mentors, to share their poetry, passions, space, and a life changing experience together.
Be Heard stands on a legacy of Minnesota Youth Poetry Slams that date back to 2005 when MNSWA and the Juno Collective held the first competition geared towards travel to Brave New Voices. We honor those that came before us and carry on the legacy of youth spoken word in Minnesota with great pride and care.
For more information on slam, the specifics of scoring and etc. please see Be Heard MN Rule Book