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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

DC Youth Slam Team 2020 Grand Slam Finals

Includes Split This Rock and DC Youth Slam Team logos, event information included on the web page, and the following text: DC Youth Slam Team 2020 Grand Slam Finals Featuring Kai Davis.

Witness the next generation of socially engaged poets speak their minds! 
Split This Rock Youth Programs presents the 2020 DC Youth Slam Team Grand Slam Finals, featuring Kai Davis. Join us on Saturday, March 14, 2020, 6-8:30pm at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (641 D St. NW, Washington, DC 20004) to watch 10 youth poets from the DC area between the ages of 13 and 19 years old compete in two rounds of performance poetry. The competition will determine the youth poets who will form the 2020 DC Youth Slam Team and represent DC on both regional and national stages throughout the year.

Advance tickets are $20. Youth Advance tickets (18 and under) are $5. You can purchase tickets and t-shirts through the 2020 DC Youth Slam Team Grand Slam Finals online registration form. Purchase tickets today to save your spot at the performance! 

Tickets will be $25 at the door. Youth tickets (18 and under) will be $5 at the door. For event questions, email

Accessibility: The venue is wheelchair accessible. Large-print copies of poems to be read will be available upon request. If the online ticket form is not accessible to you, or you have accessibility questions or accommodation requests, please contact

About The DC Youth Slam Team 2020 Grand Slam Feature

Kai Davis appears against a yellow background. She wears clear glasses as well as a jacket over a black t-shirt.

Kai Davis (she/her) is a Black Queer writer, performer and teaching artist from Philadelphia. Kai received her BA in Africana Studies and English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Temple University. Her work explores Blackness, Queerness, womanhood, and the many ways these identities converge. Kai’s work examines how power operates globally, nationally, interpersonally, and internally. She speaks on structural racism, misogyny, Black womanhood, ancestral trauma, mental health, intersectionality, Queer love, Black love, and more.

Kai has performed for TEDX Philly, CNN, BET, PBS, VICE and NPR, among others. She is a two time international grand slam champion, winning Brave New Voices in 2011 and The College Union Poetry Slam Invitational in 2016. In 2017 Kai received the Leeway Transformation Award for her years of art for social change work in Philadelphia. Most recently Kai was named as an Aspen Words 2020 Emerging Writer Fellow.





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.”

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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