HARLEM, NY -On April 6th, 2019, Urban Word NYC hosted their 21st Annual NYC Youth Poetry Slam, one of the most rigorous and competitive teen slams in the country. This event closes out a city-wide series of preliminary & semi-final slams resulting in 18 youth competing at the Apollo Theater. The top 5 will represent Urban Word NYC as well as the city of New York in Las Vegas, NV at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam/Festival.
The event was spectacular, competitive, and definitely a night to remember. The show started around 6 o’clock with DJ Cuddles playing music. The evening had a magnificent start with Madison McFerrin as the opening act sharing songs and her skills on the loop machine. Next, we heard a poem from the 2018 Urban NYC Poetry Slam team. Host and UW Artistic Director Mahogany L. Browne set the tone with a mini-jam session featuring BBD’s “Poison.” After getting the crowd on its feet, she introduced the “sacrificial poet”, NYC Youth Poet Laureate Camryn Bruno.
After, the 18 poets performed their first poems, Vibe Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Datwon Thomas, took the stage to announce the recipient of the annual Phife Dawg Style Award given to a young person who embodies the spirit of community at Urban Word. This year’s winner was Demetria Mack, senior and dedicated member of the UW Youth Leadership Council. Nine poets advance to the second round. For Round 2, poets had to share a poem responding to the prompt, “What am I aware of that brings joy?” Their varied perspectives on the prompt ranged from stories of family, analyzing the world, to explorations in identity.
As good as Mahogany was at hosting, she showed her skills as a performer closing out the show while judges tabulated the scores. Tension rose as the night drew closer to an end, and the top 5 finalists were revealed. From 18 poets to 5, Zubaida Bello, Minerva Macurralla, Aryanna Khan, Safiatu Diagan, and Aaliyah Daniels qualified to perform at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam!
Congratulations to everyone who performed and keep writing!