San Francisco Performing Arts: Youth Speaks Announces 16th Annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam

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The largest event of its kind in the country, competition celebrates National Poetry Month and features over 500 youth poets from the Bay Area this April

In celebration of their 16th anniversary as an integral part the San Francisco performing arts scene, Youth Speaks, the country’s leading nonprofit presenter of spoken word performance, education and youth development programs, will present the 16th annual Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam, a dynamic, tournament-style competition that brings together more than 500 youth poets from throughout the Bay Area for two weeks, April 13-27.

Founded in San Francisco in 1996, Youth Speaks hosted the first-ever teen poetry slam in the country the following year and it remains the largest, most anticipated event of its kind. Open to any youth aged 13-19, the annual slam (a poetry writing and performance competition with Olympic-style scoring) features hundreds of young writers from throughout the Bay Area and Northern California celebrating youth voice, social activism, literacy and lyricism. It attracts almost 10,000 audience members throughout a series of preliminary bouts, semi-finals and The Grand Slam Finals of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam.

The 2012 Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam takes place during the month of April, which is also National Poetry Month, and features three back-to-back weekends of slams beginning on April 13. The seven preliminary bouts will be held at various community venues in Oakland and San Francisco such as the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, The David Brower Center, The New Parish and 826 Valencia. The winners of those preliminary slams will participate in four semi-finals, resulting in 16 finalists that will battle it out in the Grand Slam Finals on Friday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the 3,000-seat Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco.

The six winners of the Grand Slam Finals will go on to represent the Bay Area in the Youth Speaks Brave New Voices Festival, July 17-21 in San Francisco, where teams from all over the world are invited to participate in a week-long, intensive series of workshops, poetry slams and get-togethers where they can exchange art and viewpoints and their mentors can exchange pedagogy and best practices.

The Grand Slam Finals of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam on April 27 will also be the venue for the announcement of the new 2012 Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Youth Speaks is also a leading partner in the first annual Oakland and San Francisco Youth Poet Laureate program, which launches April 1.

The Grand Slam Finals historically sell out with a standing-room-only capacity crowd. Proceeds from benefit Youth Speaks’ Bay Area youth education programs and aid in subsidizing after-school and in-school poetry workshops for more than 15,000 teenagers across the greater Bay Area.

The following is the schedule of the 2012 Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam Preliminary Bouts, Semi-Finals and Grand Slam Finals:

Preliminary Bouts

  •         Friday, April 13, 5-7 p.m. & 7-10 p.m., Pro Arts, 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland (Free)
  •      Friday, April 13, 5-7 p.m. & 7-10 p.m., The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley (Free)
  •      Friday, April 13, 5-7 p.m. & 7-10 p.m., 826 Valencia, 826 Valencia St., San Francisco (Free)
  •      Saturday, April 14, 12-2 p.m. & 2-4 p.m., Pro Arts, 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland (Free)
  •      Saturday, April 14, 12-2 p.m. & 2-4 p.m., East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, 339 11th St., Richmond (Free)
  •      Saturday, April 14, 12-2 p.m. & 2-4 p.m., 826 Valencia, 826 Valencia St., San Francisco (Free)
  •      Saturday, April 14, 12-2 p.m. & 2-4 p.m., Bindlestiff Studio, 185 6th St., San Francisco (Free)

Semifinals

  •      Friday, April 20, 6-9 p.m., The New Parish, 579 18th St., Oakland (Free)
  •      Friday, April 20, 7 p.m., Children’s Creativity Museum (Zeum), 221 Fourth St., San Francisco (Free)
  •      Saturday, April 21, 7 p.m., The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, (Free)
  •      Saturday, April 21, 7 p.m., Children’s Creativity Museum (Zeum), 221 Fourth St., San Francisco (Free)

The Grand Slam Finals of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam                                        

  •      Friday, April 27, 7 p.m., Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California St., San Francisco ($18 general admission; $6 youth under 24 and seniors over 65; $50-$300 VIP)

Admission to the preliminary bouts and semifinals is free. Tickets to the Grand Slam Finals are $18 for general admission, $6 for youth (24 and under) and seniors (65 and over).

VIP ticket holders are treated to a pre-show reception at 5:30 p.m., VIP balcony seating, and a post-show Q&A session with Youth Speaks’ founder and executive director James Kass and the 2011 Co-Slam champions, Joshua Merchant and Noah St. John, among other guests. A portion of the proceeds from Gold and Platinum VIP ticket holders will subsidize up to 40 tickets to the Grand Slam Finals for youth attendees. VIP tickets are $50, Gold VIP tickets are $150 (includes subsidized tickets for 15 youth; $100 is tax deductible) and Platinum VIP tickets are $300 (includes subsidized tickets for 40 youth; $250 is tax deductible).

For tickets and additional information, please visit http://www.youthspeaks.org.

About Youth Speaks Inc.
Founded in 1996, Youth Speaks is the leading nonprofit presenter of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs in the country. Presenters of local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, reading series’, and more, Youth Speaks also offers a comprehensive slate of literary arts education programs during the school day and after school, and provides numerous publication and youth development programs. All together Youth Speaks works with 45,000 teens per year in the Bay Area and has created partner programs in 60 cities across the United States.

For more information about San Francisco’s poetry readings at Youth Speaks and any of their many services, please visit http://www.youthspeaks.org.

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James Kass
Youth Speaks
(415) 255-9035 x12
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