Monday, August 25, 2008
Brave New Voices
This photo was taken at a booksigning more than a year ago. Seated at the table is Ronda Thompson, myself in the middle, and Linda Castillo on the far right. The girl in back, third from the left (just look for the young one in the group!), is Christen Reighter. Last month, this smart, talented, kind and lovely young friend of mine competed at the 11th annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival held in Washington DC. Christen graduated from high school in May, and she is a member of my local writing organization Panhandle Professional Writers. This was the 11th anniversary for the seven-day poetry slam festival which is held in a different city each year and presented by Youth Speaks, the nation’s "leading spoken word performance, education and youth development organization." Christen was one of 450 teenage poets and spoken word artists from diverse backgrounds chosen to perform in the event. These talented young adults hailed from "cities, rural, and suburban areas, the Deep South, Native American reservations, Alaska, college towns – even from parts of Europe and Africa" and their performances were seen and heard by more than 10,000 people during the festival. As noted on the Youth Speaks website: "BNV (Brave New Voices) directly addresses the youth perspective on local and national issues, using spoken word as a tool for civic engagement, arts education, and literacy development – and reflecting the changing demographics of the United States. ...These young writers are a diverse, creative, intelligent group of trendsetters and community leaders (65% of whom qualify for the free lunch program at their home schools). They come to BNV each year to attend world-class workshops and performances by renowned poets, writers and musicians, and to participate in the Olympic-style Youth Poetry Slam, building a national community of young, intelligent, and courageous artists."
I could not be more proud of Christen! I have watched her grow from a curious, motivated and talented girl into an amazing young woman passionate about her art and the causes she believes in. I can't wait to see where she goes from here. All I can say is WATCH OUT WORLD, HERE SHE COMES! Her performance (seen here on YouTube) blew me away. Christen, you go girl!