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High School Poets Compete in Grand Slam Finals for the 2017 World Champion DC Youth Slam Team!

Contact: Joseph Green, Youth Programs Coordinator, 202.787.5279,

High School Poets Compete in Grand Slam Finals for the 2017 World Champion DC Youth Slam Team!

Washington, DC -- Teen poets will compete to secure a position on the world champion DC Youth Slam Team on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 7 pm at The Mead Center for American Theatre, home of Arena Stage, located at 1101 6th St, SW, Washington, DC. Tickets can be purchased online at for $15 in advance, $20 at the door, with $5 tickets available for youth ages 18 and under. In addition to two rounds of poetry performances by exceptional high school students, the Finals will also feature award-winning poet Shelby Birch.

Since the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, hundreds of young writers and performers from the DC metro area have been working to make it to this year’s Finals through Split This Rock after school poetry clubs in over 25 high schools and at monthly Split This Rock youth open mics. Split This Rock’s youth programs provide young people the space to build a culture and community of literacy, art, and social change. After months of practice, writing workshops, qualifying bouts, and inspiring performances in an impressive Semi-Finals competition at the National Portrait Gallery, the top ten student competitors advanced from Semi-Finals to compete for five slots on the 2017 DC Youth Slam Team at this year’s Grand Slam Finals. The DC Youth Slam Team is a program of Split This Rock’s youth programs, which provides a platform for youth, ages 13-19, write, perform, and celebrate poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change.  The DC Youth Slam Team will represent the District of Columbia at the international youth poetry competition Brave New Voices, which will be hosted this year in the Bay Area.

“I write because it gives me a voice for the first time,” says poet Aniyah Smith of Wakefield High School, who earned first place in Semi-Finals and will be competing in Finals. “As a black woman in this country I have spent so long being silenced and ignored that at times I forget my words matter. When I step on that stage I remember. It's like liberating all the words I have been made to think I am not allowed to say. Poetry has become an act of defiance against a nation that has rendered me voiceless. These words are my way of speaking up.”

For more information, please visit Split This Rock’s website at, or contact Joseph Green, Youth Programs Coordinator at 202.787.5279 or

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