When one thinks of city hall, it is probably in the context of local laws, fiscal management and governance of the district. Monday night January 7th, Baltimore's City Hall, however, was the site of a phenomenal event as it became a venue for a youth poetry slam.
Eighteen high school and first year college students competed for prizes which included Visa gift cards and writing journals, complete with pens.
The slam, as explained by Kenneth Morrison, CEO and co-founder of DoMore Baltimore, is a combination of public speaking with an honest, original message as the participants deliver their creations.
This event was a collaboration between DoMore Baltimore (a grassroots organization which uses the arts to engage the community in civic issues, the Baltimore Youth Commission ( a youth division similar to Baltimore's City Council) and the Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team.
Five judges were introduced to the energized audience as the participants sat front row waiting for their turns to display their originality and diversity in styles and delivery.
This was not the first time for this type of competition. Last year Team Baltimore competed in an international competition for a chance to appear on the show, Brave New Voices and placed 9th. This year, there is a national tour planned which will include Chicago, Atlanta, New York and California.
The slam was hosted by notable Baltimore poet Slangston Hughes. The participants, in order of appearance, were: Evan Smith-Finney, Marquis Carrington, Ben Parker, Diondre Jackson, Daniel Grinage, Daniel Wilson, Roland Morton, Kyleen Brown, Armand Jackson, Patrick Hammond, Rani Jackson, Najah James, Simone Speed, Constance Green, Bianca Sawyer, Michael Harris, Nakia Brown and Christopher Jackson.
It was evident that the students were speaking passionately as, sometimes, tears flooded their delivery and raw emotions were displayed. Topics were mt only raw, but also very diverse, as participants spoke about violence, homelessness, sexuality and fatherlessness.
Poet Tayree Hill, there to support one of her students, said it was a good idea that the students were using poetry as an outlet and some of the poets put her in mind of other performers like 13th of Nazareth, Ad-Lib and Slangston Hughes, himself.
It appears that the revolution is live and being vocalized!