Press Release - Detail
For immediate release Thursday, September 26, 2013.
CONTACT: Angela Fisher Hall
Birmingham Public Library System
Phone: (205) 226-3614
Teen Poets Place in National Competition’s Top 20
Reception planned to acknowledge their success
Birmingham, Alabama—When they walked away from the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival in August, they had finished number 16 out of 50 groups. It was the first time since the competition’s 1998 start that a team from Alabama competed. Six Birmingham area teens made up the team they called “#KnowDisclaimer.” On Sunday, September 29 from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at Birmingham Public’s Central Library, the teens will be honored with a reception. The program will be held in the Richard Arrington Auditorium in the Linn Henley Research Library located at 2100 Park Place.
Preparing teens for the national competition began when Birmingham Public Library Arts Literature and Sports Department Head Haruyo Miyagawa and John Paul Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Real Life Poets, discussed ways to take an annual poetry competition titled WORD UP! to another level and decided to set their sights on Brave New Voices, a competition for youth poets which started in 1998. Team members are Chase Essary, recent graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Shades Valley High School; Jacob Bryant of Huffman High School, Jordan Montgomery, Minor High School, Eboni Wallace of Tarrant High School, Miaya Webster of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and Justin Wright, a recent graduate of IB. The Birmingham team, #KnowDisclaimer, won the first bout against some heavy hitters such as Chicago, Toronto, and Milwaukee and finished second in the second bout--they lost to New York. Eboni Wallace, the team vice-president, received three perfect 10’s for one of her performances, which helped the team get to the semi-finals. Due to their first-time success, our Birmingham team has been invited back to compete at next year’s Brave New Voices which will be held in Philadelphia.
John Paul Taylor stated, "The 2013 Brave New Voices has been a life changing experience for the youth poets as well as the coaches and mentors. #KnowDisclaimer represented Birmingham in a very history-making way. They not only won the very first bout but made it to the semi-final round which means #KnowDisclaimer is in the top 20 teams. The bigger picture in all of this is the level of leadership, maturity, and the ability to overcome the odds the team showed. They have laid a brilliant foundation for the youth poetry movement in Birmingham. Six young lives have been transformed due to the Power of Poetry! Many more will find their Voice." Taylor and spoken voice poet Alley Cat served as coaches for the team.
Several of the teens on team #KnowDisclaimer have already proven their mettle by winning in the annual WORD UP! poetry competition for Jefferson County (AL) high school students which is sponsored by the Public Libraries In Jefferson County and Real Life Poets, a non-profit creative writing organization based in Birmingham. Eboni Wallace won first place in WORD UP! the last two years; Miaya Webster placed third in this year’s WORD UP!; and Justin Wright placed third in last year’s competition.
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Birmingham Public Library
The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with nineteen locations and serving the community for 127 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast. For additional information, visit our website at www.bplonline.org and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Real Life Poets
The Real Life Poets, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit community service and mentoring organization focusing on mentoring young adults, encouraging good communication, and oratorical skills using spoken word poetry and the arts. They organize community programs, such as Operation Mustard Seed (OMS) Coats for the Cold, and OMS Annual Community Health Fair, and various workshops in order to fulfill their mission. They have facilitated workshops for The Birmingham C.A.N. Summer program, several within the Better Basics Enrichment Program, Public Libraries In Jefferson County’s WORD UP! student poetry slam workshops, and The Birmingham Mayor’s Office and Division of Youth Services Kiddie Club. Because of the student’s interest and desire to continue writing and performing outside of the workshops, the group created a teen open mic, Flow Tactics, hosted by teen artists the third Saturday of every month and held at the YMCA Youth Center.
MEDIA: Media coverage of this reception is appreciated. Attached is a photograph of the team members. From left to right, they are Justin Wright, Miaya Webster, Chase Essary, Eboni Wallace, Jacob Bryant, and Jordan Montgomery. Alley Cat, featured in front, is the team coach.