We are Poets: Introduction (03:11)
Joseph Buckley recites "I Come From..." See footage of Leeds' city center, parks, and neighborhoods.
Poetry in England (02:18)
Leeds Young Authors is a youth poetry and literary group for 13-19 year olds. To win a poetry slam, the poet must combine the strength of words with a compelling performance. LYA was chosen to represent the United Kingdom at the Brave New Voices (BVN) competition in Washington, DC.
Choosing a Team (02:03)
LYA conducts a poetry slam; the highest score wins a spot with the team traveling to Washington, DC. Khadijah Ibrahiim explains that the remaining places are chosen by merit, attendance, attitude, and style. Azallia Anisko wins the competition.
Azallia Anisko (02:28)
Anisko believes her mother's side of the family does not understand her poetry. Genya Anisko describes what a good influence LYA is on her daughter. A poetry slam was the first event Anisko's father watched.
Rheima Ibrahiim (02:50)
Ibrahiim discusses how she started writing poems and why she wants to remain in Leeds. Listen to an excerpt of her poetry— a teacher coaches her on her performance. She becomes the second member of the team.
Kadish Morris (02:52)
Morris shares her dreams of the future. After she started expressing herself with poetry, teachers believed she had potential. Watch her rehearse and receive feedback.
Saju Ahmed (03:12)
Ahmed joined LYA to deter him from committing crimes; he loves the energy of poetry slams. Ibrahiim recalls making him a team captain. On his way to obtain a background check, Ahmed discusses why becoming captain made him reevaluate his beliefs on education.
"I am Not a Terrorist" (02:25)
Maryam Alam wants to represent empowered Muslim women and feels the media has influenced the population to believe all Muslims believe in Jihad. Rommi Smith describes why they chose Alam for the trip to Washington DC. Watch her rehearse and receive feedback.
Loves Science Fiction (03:34)
Joseph Buckley won his debut slam in 2007. He recalls being a victim of assault for being black or "too white." He explains there will be a lot less problems when everyone looks the same.
LYA Team (03:44)
Saul Williams explains Homer was the first performance poet. The team needs to create and memorize 16 poems to prepare for the competition. At a rehearsal, coach Rommi Smith criticizes them for not meeting deadlines.
Buckley and Alam collaborate on a poem about America's bullying tactics toward the Middle East. Smith decides to remove it from the repertoire, because she feels it could be misinterpreted.
Two Weeks to Competition (02:08)
The performance must be less than three minutes per the regulations—Buckley and Rheima try to cut a minute off their time. Ibrahiim describes how the members write from their hearts. The team makes final preparations.
Final Rehearsal (03:22)
Smith gives the team a final pep talk and bids them good luck. The team departs for Washington, DC. Team members and organizers talk about how hard the team has prepared.
Brave New Voices (02:27)
BVN culminates in a spoken word competition at the end of the week. Participants discuss the festival and what performance poetry means to them. Williams describes the festival as the "only poetry reading he would attend."
Poetry Slam Begins (03:44)
Listen to poets perform outside the residence. Alam is excited for a full day of poetry workshops.
Freedom of Speech Theme (02:47)
At George Washington University, the team takes workshops with international poets, professors, and activists. Watch Ise Lyfe, a hip hop activist, perform. Ahmed leaves the workshop inspired to put actions behind his words and start a revolution.
Competition Stress (02:07)
An activist discusses "No Child Left Behind" with the poets and asks them to write a poem about a solution. Alam is nervous about performing tomorrow. LYA will perform in two rounds.
Team Preparations (03:10)
LYA decides to perform Buckley and Alam's "America" in the slam. Alam is worried about learning it in time. Ibrahiim decides to put the poem in the second round to give her more time to memorize it.
BNV's Quarterfinals (02:48)
Paulette Morris gives the team last minute coaching advice. Joshua Bennet and Kesed, former champions, discuss how the performance is just as important as the poetry. Watch Kesed perform.
Poetry Slam, Round One: Part One (02:47)
LYA must average a score of nine between the two preliminary rounds in order to qualify for the semifinals. Watch Rheima perform. Participants comment on the judging and the strength of the content.
Poetry Slam, Round One: Part Two (05:07)
Watch Alam perform— the judges are booed when they give her low scores. Leeds finishes in last place in the first preliminary round. Team members and participants express their disappointment.
Poetry Slam, Round Two: Part One (02:57)
Ibrahiim and Buckley perform "I Come From" and receive high scores. Watch participates from New Orleans complete.
Poetry Slam, Round Two: Part Two (02:14)
Alam and Buckley perform "America" and receive high scores. Watch excerpts of other poets at the slam.
Leeds Versus New Orleans (02:57)
LYA ties with New Orleans for first place; they need a score of 9.8 to win the round. Morris and Rheima perform and receive a perfect score.
Waiting for a Decision (04:02)
Williams discusses how poetry precipitates a social movement. LYA did not qualify for the finals. Organizers discuss how competing in the slam is less important than being heard.
After Brave New Voices (03:54)
Ansiko performs at the protest— the team returns home to Leeds. Learn how the team members are progressing in college. LYA returned to the BNV festival the following year and won second place.
Credits: We are Poets (03:50)
Credits: We are Poets
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