DC SCORES Poet-Athletes Share Stage With Clint Smith at Our Words Our City 2023

1-9c6a08.png Poet-athlete Kayla Nelson, a student at MacFarland Middle School, opened the Arena Stage program at Our Words Our City. Photo: Cody Cervenka.

Last night, DC SCORES poet-athletes from across the District stepped into the spotlight alongside award-winning writer Clint Smith at Our Words Our City 2023.

Our Words Our City is DC SCORES’ is an annual youth poetry showcase for the poet-athletes in Youth W.O.R.D. Initiative. Throughout the year, Youth W.O.R.D. students received enhanced poetry programming led by professional spoken word artists, who guided them through the process of writing, editing, and performing original work in front of a live audience.

This year’s Our Words Our City was hosted at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Poet-athletes and DC SCORES alumni, who ranged in age from the 2nd grade to college seniors, performed their poems in front of a packed audience.

The event was sponsored by Wells Fargo, the Washington Spirit. D.C. United, Busboys and Poets, Cosentino, Planet Word, PAVE, and Nationwide, and included a pre-event reception hosted by the Washington Spirit that featured welcome remarks from Emma May, the Spirit’s President of Business Operations, and star striker and DC SCORES board member Ashley Hatch.

Our Words Our City, DC SCORES had hosted since 2017, also featured an exciting new component: the inaugural presentation to the Poet-Athlete Award, which was bestowed upon poet Clint Smith.

2-527fc0.png Clint Smith gave a reading from his latest poetry collection, Above Ground. Photo: Cody Cervenka.

The honor will be awarded annually to an individual, or group of individuals, who embody the ethos of DC SCORES poet-athletes. Smith — a distinguished author, writer, poet, and former D1 college soccer player — received the award for his work promoting racial justice and equity.

The Poet-Athlete Award, designed by District-based multidisciplinary artist Trap Bob, was presented to Smith by DC SCORES Board Member Ben-James Brown and alumnus Ja’quan Williams. After receiving the award, Smith treated the audience to a reading from his new and bestselling poetry collection, Above Ground.

In a program that celebrated multiple generations of poetic talent from DC, poet-athletes delivered moving pieces exploring a range of topics, from family relationships and the power of art to the fight for racial justice and the importance of history.

“This year’s Our Words Our City was by far my favorite evening in 15 years of attending DC SCORES’ events, and that’s saying something!” said Tony Francavilla, Chief Development Officer at DC SCORES. “Our poet-athletes’ words were inspiring, joyful, and — at times — heartbreaking. I am so grateful to our generous sponsors, Clint Smith, and our talented poet-athletes for delivering such a beautiful program.”

3-e57f25.png Youth W.O.R.D. poet-athletes cheered on their peers during Our Words Our City 2023. Photo: Cody Cervenka

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