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The DC Youth Slam Team

SPLIT THIS ROCK'S DC YOUTH SLAM TEAM uses poetry to teach and empower teens from the DC metropolitan area to speak up about issues of social justice. With annual travel to regional and national poetry slam festivals, the team provides outstanding opportunities, training, and a platform for talented youth to develop their writing, performance, and public speaking skills with guidance from mentors and teaching artists.

The team is a year-long program for students in DC and the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia (affectionately called the DMV area). Students must currently be enrolled in middle or high school and live in the area to be eligible for the team.

For more information, email

2020 DC Youth Slam Team Qualifying Slams

We are looking for 2020's DC Youth Slam Team. Youth who qualify for the team participate in an intensive summer program, representing DC at regional and national poetry slams and festivals throughout the summer. Priority will be given to the first 10 youth to sign up, BUT you can still slam even if you haven't registered ahead of time. Sign up will remain open until the start of the open mic and you can register to slam upon arrival at the event if there is still space left. You can find links to the sign up form for each upcoming slam in the schedule below. Remember, competing poets: It is in your interest to register and slam at as many qualifiers as you can!

Slam team finalists are determined by a point system:

  • 1st place - 4 points,
  • 2nd Place - 3 points,
  • 3rd place - 2 points,
  • and 1 point for all other competing poets.

The top 10 poets, with the most accumulated points, will make it to DCYST Finals in March 2020.

Saturday, December 21, 2019, 5-7 pm
DC Youth Open Mic
Busboys and Poets, 450K
450 K St NW, Washington, DC

Friday, January 10, 2020, 5:30-8 pm
RealTalkDC's Floetic Uptown
1525 14th St NW, Floor 6, Washington, DC

Saturday, January 18, 2020, 5-7 pm
DC Youth Open Mic
Busboys and Poets, 450K
450 K St NW, Washington, DC

Saturday, February 15, 2020, 5-7 pm
DC Youth Open Mic
Busboys and Poets, 450K
450 K St NW, Washington, DC
*Sign up to slam!

Friday, February 28, 2020, 5:30-8 pm
RealTalkDC's Floetic Friday
651 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC
*Sign up to slam!

FREE Slam Prep Workshop Series 

Interested in polishing off your poems for DC Youth Slam Team qualifying slams? Come out to the FREE Slam Prep Youth Writing Workshops, led by former DC Youth Slam Team members and local slam champions. Through March, youth writing workshops will focus on slam preparation for the DC Youth Slam Team Qualifying Slam season. Youth Writing Workshops are held on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of every month. All writing levels welcomed. No need to RSVP. We meet at 1301 Connecticut Ave NW, 6th Floor Conference Room. Please note the building doors will be locked when you arrive. A volunteer will be available to let people in until 6:45pm/7pm.

The DC Youth Slam Team at Brave New Voices

The DC Youth Slam Team has a notable history at Brave New Voices. In 2013, the team placed 2nd and one of its poems has now been viewed close to 2 million times on YouTube. The team took 1st place at the 2014 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. Read about their win on our News From Split This Rock page. The 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 teams advanced to Semi-Finals. The festival is about more than just the competition though. As the slam mantra coined by Allan Wolf goes: “The points are not the point; the point is poetry.”

Follow the team on all social media @DCyouthSLAM

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The 2019 DC Youth Slam Team 

From left to right starting at the top: Jordan Shaibani, Takier George, Gelilla Mekonnen
From left to right at the bottom: Marjan Naderi, Amina Fatima


The 2018 DC Youth Slam Team

Left to right at top: Dani Miller and Marjan Naderi | Middle photo: Ma'issa Wright-Kerr | Left to right at bottom: Aniyah Smith and Mary Kamara


The 2017 DC Youth Slam Team

Collage of 2017 DC Youth Slam Team members

Left to right: Tika Wallace, Aniyah Smith, Gaelyn Smith (2017 Team Coach), Joseph Smith (Split This Rock Youth Programs Director), Kenny Carroll, and Dion Harrison
Check out the team at Brave New Voices on YouTube.


The 2016 DC Youth Slam Team

From left to right: Eliamani Ismail, Gaeyln Smith, Bobbi Johnson, and Zahra Wardrick. Additionally, Cedric Harper was selected for the team but did not compete at Brave New Voices that year. (Photo by Outlier Imagery)
Visit YouTube to check out Bobbi Johnson at Semi-Finals and the team's group poem at Finals of Brave New Voices in 2016.


The 2015 DC Youth Slam Team

2015 team photo in front of african art museum

From L to R: Quintin Paschall, Gaelyn Smith, Elexia Alleyne, Nesha Ruther, Henry Lozano, Milen Mehari, Kenya Newsome, Hannah Smallwood, Tajai Williams, Shayla Johnson, Cedric Harper, and Bobbi Johnson


The 2014 DC Youth Slam Team

2014 team at BNV champs

Alphabetical: Abbey Pechman, Ayinde Sekou, Amina Iro*, Chyna McCombs, CiCi Felton, Eric Powell, Jr.*, Hannah Halpern*, Kenny Hahn, Lauren May, Malachi Byrd, Mariam Coker*, Morgan Butler, Quintin Paschall, Rodney Johnson, Tajai Williams, Thomas Hill (Photo by Outlier Imagery)


The 2013 DC Youth Slam Team

team photo from 2013 BNV

From L to R: Ayinde Grimes, Lauren May, CiCi Felton, Kosi Dunn, Reina Privado, Eric Powell Jr, Hannah Halpern, Amina Iro, Thomas Hill, Asha Gardner, Malachi Byrd, and Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg (not pictured)


The 2012 DC Youth Slam Team

2012 team photo

From L to R: Asha Gardner, Alexis Franklin, Kayla McAfee, Tiana Minter-El, Mariam Coker, Lauryn Nesbitt, Eric Powell Jr, Kosi Dunn, Jesse Ferrell, Olivia Weltz, Scotty Williams


The 2011 DC Youth Slam Team

2011 team photo

From L to R: Lauryn Nesbitt, Alexis Franklin, Kayla McAfee, Kosi Dunn, and Selina Johnson (squatting near center)

Coaches YaYa Bey (on left sitting) and Safia Elhillo (on far right standing) also in picture.


Video of the DC Youth Slam Team