America SCORES National Youth Poetry Slam Series Kicks Off

Regional competitions in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York will determine finalists for National Poetry Slam Championship; Four D.C. students are among the regional finalsists.

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Award-winning non-profit America SCORES is sponsoring a National Poetry Slam series for children ages 8-11. Grade school poet-athletes who participate in America SCORES’ free afterschool programs competed in hometown competitions last fall in Washington DC, New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Standouts from each city were matched with local professional spoken word artists to hone their craft, and invited to compete in one of three Regional Slams:

  • Western Regional: February 1, 2020 at 4pm, Potrero Theater, San Francisco
  • Eastern Regional: February 8, 2020 at 4pm, The Nuyorican Poets’ Café, New York City
  • Central Regional: February 22, 2020 at 4pm, Citlalin Arts Gallery, Chicago

Top performers from each of the Regional Slams will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. in March to participate in the America SCORES National Poetry Slam Final. Each of the slams, which will also feature performances from local professional spoken-word artists, will be filmed and edited as part of a documentary movie, tentatively entitled Our Words Our Cities. USA Today Network and the Gannett Foundation are partially underwriting both the slam series and the documentary through their “A Community Thrives” program. The Washington D.C. Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment is also partially funding the documentary. DC SCORES CEO and America SCORES National Network President, Bethany Rubin Henderson, said “we’re excited to bring this amazing opportunity to our poet-athletes, and eager to share their powerful words and inspiring stories with the nation.”

America SCORES was born in Washington, D.C., and DC SCORES is the network’s largest affiliate. DC SCORES is sending four area students to New York City to compete in the regional finals. Prior to the Eastern Regional, the DC students will perform at DC SCORES’ poetry showcase, Our Words Our City, at The Studio Theatre on February 6. The students representing D.C. are:

  • Chelsea Garcia (Powell Elementary School, 5th Grade)
  • Harlem Reeves (KIPP DC Quest Academy, 4th Grade)
  • Jerry Chamberlain (Kimball Elementary School, 3rd Grade)
  • Tyreze Spriggs (Aiton Elementary School, 5th Grade)

America SCORES operates free after-school programs in 12 North American cities, serving over 13,000 kids a year. To date, America SCORES has helped more than 120,000 children from high-poverty urban neighborhoods lead healthy lives, be engaged students, and have the confidence and character to make a difference in their communities and in the world. In Washington, DC SCORES, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, provides free after school programming for over 3,000 kids a year.

The power of SCORES’ unique soccer-poetry-service model was recently captured in a moving, dynamic advertisement underwritten by Volkswagen that aired throughout the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The spot features an original poem by award-winning spoken word-artist, DC SCORES Director of Creative Arts, Charity Blackwell, who is hosting the Slams. SCORES was also recently featured in another documentary, Soccer in the City, which was released in November 2019, and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Our Words Our Cities director, Michael Holstein, noted, “spoken-word poetry has a long history – from ancient Greeks to modern day hip-hop artists – we’re excited to tell that story and shine a light on some amazing kids, coaches and professional spoken-word artists with this film.” Our Words Our Cites is scheduled for a spring 2020 release.

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