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The DC Youth Slam Team


The 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.

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 2020 DC Youth Slam Team 

Collaged photos of 2020 DC Youth Slam Team members Takier George, Marjan Naderi, Charlotte Maleski, Gabriela Orozco, and Kashvi Ramani. Includes the DC Youth Poetry Slam Team logo in the upper left-hand corner. Taiker wears a peach shirt and a jacket with fur on the hood. Marjan leans forward with one hand near her face with wears rings and bracelets. Charlotte stands outdoors and wears black tank top. Gabriela speaks at a microphone and wears a button-up shirt. Kashvi stands near a tree and wears a blue shirt with white polka dots.

Left to right at top: Takier George and Marjan Naderi | Left to right at bottom: Charlotte Maleski, Gabriela Orozco, Kashvi Ramani
Photo of Charlotte Maleski by Anais Lowenthal | Photo of Takier George by Gelila Mekonnen

Takier George is a graduate of Wakefield High School’s class of 2020 and will now be attending Howard University as an English major with a concentration in creative writing. She was a member of the 2018 and 2019 Wakefield’s Louder Than A Bomb and a former member of the Wakefield Poetry Club. Takier has also received second place in the 2019 Hyper Bole. This is her second year on the DC Youth Slam Team.

Marjan Naderi is an Afghan-American writer and educator based in Washington, DC. As a 6 time Poetry Grand Slam Champion, Naderi has been featured on NowThis News, The Washington Post, NPR, The United Nation’s Girl Up Campaign, NBC News, Amazon Prime, The Kennedy Center , D.C. United, Nike, The U.S. Institute of Peace, and more. Her writing has been recognized by The Adroit Journal, Brave New Voices, The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database by Split This Rock, and The National YoungArts Foundation where she was nominated for the U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts Award. As an educator, Marjan has taught Quranic Studies at The Afghan Academy and founded the Washington International Academy Library. Her work is to be featured in curriculums including L.M.S. Voice, Poetry N.O.W, and Fairfax Country Public Schools. Naderi, 18, now attends The University of Virginia. Her chapbook, Bloodline, is available online at her website.

Charlotte Maleski is a poet, musician, and student filmmaker that attends Yorktown High School. She has a black belt in Jhoon Rhee taekwondo, and has taught in her studio’s Adaptive taekwondo program, which aids students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Charlotte is also an alumna of UVA’s Young Writers’ Workshop. Since discovering spoken word at a middle school open mic, she has dreamed of being on the DC Youth Slam Team. Three years after her first poetry performance, she is excited to be a member of the 2020 team.

Gabriela Orozco is a native of SE DC who is currently a rising senior at School Without Walls. Her poetry is inspired by reflections on her identity as a Jewish Latina daughter of South African and Nicaraguan immigrants, as well as reflections on improving herself and the world. She is thrilled to join and learn from the DC Youth Slam Team as she cannot wait to become a better poet and advocate. Additionally, as the 2019 DC Youth Poet Laureate, Gabriela has led youth poetry writing workshops and reads her poetry all across the city, often at venues such as Busboys & Poets and the Kennedy Center. She has also received a National Gold Medal and American Voices Medal in the 2020 Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards for her short poetry collection A Conquistador’s Currency, Echoes from the Quarry.

Kashvi Ramani is a writer, actress, songwriter and singer from Northern Virginia. She has just graduated middle school, and will be pursuing a dual program in high school -- Entrepreneurship at the Academies of Loudoun and Theater / Film at Rock Ridge Performing Arts High School. This is her first year participating in both slam poetry and the DC Youth Slam Team, but she has been writing songs, poetry, scripts, and other forms of writing for much of her life. In second grade she won her first poetry competition, going on to win $5k for her school after writing a rap in fourth grade, and was granted a Silver Medal at the National Level for her submission to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.


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