Don’t leave out teen poets

Asheville Writers in the Schools serves our community well in providing workshops for young writers. We’ve had many opportunities to work in tandem with Janet Hurley and AWITS and we applaud their efforts. 
We applaud Xpress‘ major coverage of the re-emergence of poetry in Asheville [“Versify,” April 9] however we are disappointed that you failed to focus more on our teen poets and their incredible contributions.

Slam Asheville Youth has been running two monthly youth poetry slams for over two years now, and audiences frequently top 100. Our Soulspeak series at New York Studios often features a theme, and poets have used their words to raise awareness and money for several local organizations, most recently raising over $1,000 for MANNA FoodBank. 
Poets also enjoy free monthly workshops with award-winning regional artists such as Allan Wolf and Glenis Redmond.

Our Asheville/BNV series at N.C. Stage is our competitive slam, where poets grow their performance skills and prepare all year long to compete in April to represent Asheville at the national championship. Here poets are often treated to feature performances from traveling nationally recognized poets. Many of these young poets are in poetry clubs at their schools that are run by our volunteer coaches and youth teaching artists.

We have taken two teams of six young poets to represent Asheville at the National Championships in 2012 and 2013. We 
are preparing to take a third team to Philadelphia in July. Last year Xpress sent out a writer and photographer who spent the afternoon with our youth team as it prepared for competition in Chicago.  You never ran that story. Our youths made it to the semifinals and ended up in the top eight in the world.  We invite all Ashevilleans to come out and hear these amazing young poets who represent our fair city on Saturday May 3, 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Wordfest at Lenoir Rhyne University.

Heidi Freeman, Mel Kelley and Steve Shell

Slam Asheville Youth

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