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Eight local students traveled to Washington D.C. for the BNV International Youth Poetry Festival

August 17, 2016 - Student Success

Eight local students traveled to our nation's capital to represent Tampa Bay in one of the largest annual poetry festivals in the world. Hundreds of young people from across the world took center stage at the 19th Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival for a week of workshops, poetry slam, performances, and civic engagement from July 12 – 16, 2016 in Washington D.C.

Brave New Voices (BNV) is an international youth poetry festival created in 1998 by Youth Speaks, Inc. in San Francisco, CA.  Since that time, Brave New Voices has grown to represent youth from all across the United States and also features International teams from Canada, Europe, Africa, the Polynesian Islands and the Caribbean.  

BNV pulls together young people to celebrate diversity and expression and empower themselves through the written and spoken word.  This demonstration of free speech, artistic empowerment and youth voice is facilitated by a series of workshops, panel discussions, community outreach activities, open-mic sessions and a poetry slam competition.

According to Heard ‘Em Say Founder and Executive Director, Walter “Wally B.” Jennings this was Tampa Bay's 7th consecutive year participating and competing in the festival.  The students who attended this year included:

Sarah Colarte (King High School-C/O '15)

Ashlyn Denson (Blake High School-C/O '16)

Laura DeSousa (Blake High School)

Sonia Hordge (Blake High School)

Megan Kirkham (Bloomingdale High School-C/O '16)

Denzel Pierre (Hillsborough High School)

Amirah Rivers (Dunedin High School-C/O '16-Pinellas County)

Jordan Theocharakis (Durant High School)

Heard 'Em Say Teen Poetry was established in May 2007 to provide the community's youth with a healthy social outlet and platform to express themselves and promote growth in the areas of: self-esteem, written and oral communication, networking, social tolerance, and cultural understanding through the art of spoken word poetry.

It helps to dispel the notion that you cannot have fun and learn at the same time!

For more information on competing for a slot on Tampa Bay's BNV team, please call (813) 833-4186 or visit