Tucson Youth Poetry Slam
Araceli Montaño, Program Coordinator
Eva Sierra, Youth Organizer & co-host
Spoken Futures, Inc.
Sarah Gonzales, Codirector
Logan Phillips, Codirector
Alexia Vasquez, Youth Organizer 2013-2014
Amy Briseño, Program Coordinator 2012-2013
Enrique García, Youth Organizer 2012-2013
The Tucson Youth Poetry Slam is a program of Spoken Futures, Inc.
Sarah Gonzales believes the intersection of art and activism is a critical place for community survival. After years of engagement in community work and youth organizing on racial justice in Arizona, she founded her own national social justice consulting company, TruthSarita, LLC which supports building collective power to dismantle inequity. Sarah also serves as Co-Director of Spoken Futures, Inc developing programs including Tucson Youth Poetry Slam and Liberation Lyrics which creates space for youth to process and address issues such as the school to prison pipeline, LGBTQ rights and migrant justice through spoken word poetry. In addition to facilitation, training and youth organizing work, Sarah is an extensive haiku writer, fierce dance floor occupier and a trickster performance artist whose recent work landed her in 6th place in the Arizona US Presidential Primaries in 2012. She loves horror movies and hates peanut butter.
As a bilingual poet, performer, educator and DJ, Logan Phillips works to create new opportunities for the intersection of poetry, social justice and wider society. Born to a family of Irish-Slavic descent and raised in Cochise County in the Arizona-Mexico borderlands, Phillips lived in and around Mexico City 2006-2011, where he contributed to organizing the country’s first regular poetry slam series. He has been invited to perform in a wide variety of spaces, including the central plaza of Bogotá, an underground reading in Havana and an opera house in Wisconsin as the opener for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Phillips serves as Codirector of Spoken Futures, Inc., whose programs include the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, which draws an audience of over 100 every month. He is a resident DJ at Tucson’s Hotel Congress, and his debut full length book of poems, Sonoran Strange, was published by Albuquerque’s West End Press in 2015.
Araceli Montaño is a native Tucsonan, born and raised under dry, desert heat. Living in Kansas for a few years of her childhood made Araceli realize that seasons do occur, just not so much at home. Discovering a plethora of cultural diversity and identity has allowed Araceli to view and approach the world with wonder. She began writing after her brother passed away in the Fall of 2010 as an outlet to cope and heal. Doing so allowed Araceli to write about different events that impact her life as a young, brown Xicana living in South Tucson. Araceli has gone from competing poet at events like the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam and international festival Brave New Voices, to slam coordinator and staff member of local organization Spoken Futures Inc.
Born and raised in South Tucson, Jose Martinez grew up close to his Mexican roots. He basis much of his writing on his experiences of being raised in a lower class Hispanic household. When Jose began competing at the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, he found the strength of words. Poetry slam created a space where youth poets could share their stories and find others who loved spoken word and thought alike. Being a regular at the monthly event, Jose Martinez was the 2014 city wide slam champion. Slam poetry is also the best outlet for the young writer, it created a home for his broken thoughts to try to mend and become something healing for anyone else experiencing the same struggles. Jose is now the Community Outreach Coordinator of Spoken Futures and continues to share his stories through events around Tucson.
Enrique García Naranjo is a poet, performer and pocho from Tucson, Arizona. He is a Tucson Youth Poetry Slam alumnus and a Spoken Futures INC staff member. García Naranjo’s poetry is centered on Chicanx identity and the language of resistance. In 2014, García Naranjo published his debut collection of poetry, Tortoise Boy Says, through Spoken Futures Press. In 2015, he was awarded the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund grant for his art and activism in Tucson. García Naranjo’s work has been published by and included in The LA Times, The Acentos Review, The New Engagement, Sunday Kinfolk and more. Between reading, performing and teaching, García Naranjo can be found crate digging for vinyl and spinning at a block party.
Eva Maria Sierra is the product of a bilingual and bicultural community. Spending the majority of her life crossing the Arizona/Sonora border, Eva has never been too far from her roots. Her culture as well as her sexuality and other significant identities are apparent in her bilingual writing. Through the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, Eva has used writing poetry as both a coping mechanism as well as a form of self expression. After participating in several poetry slams and open-mic events, as well as placing first in the 2014-2015 Tucson Youth Poetry Slam Championships, Eva has found her passion in writing as well as motivating others to write. She is an intern for social justice group Spoken Futures, Inc., where she continues to conduct workshops and read poetry across southern Arizona.
was born in and grew up on the South Side of Tucson, Arizona where he was strongly influenced by Mexican culture and family values which are both elements that are commonly found in his poetry. He began competing at the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam as a monthly regular in 2015 which allowed him to utilize performance opportunities to test his own writing skills as well as to express himself artistically. He then went on to place 1st in the 6th Annual TYPS All-City Championship and has become a staff member with local organization Spoken Futures Inc. where he is learning to spread poetry and activism across the community.
Zack Taylor is native-Tucsonan, and southside resident that writes about queer identity, education rights, and cute boys. Zack became a regular competitor and volunteer at TYPS where he eventually won multiple slams and competed in annual championships. Zack is the coordinator of Kaleidoscope, an art program that serves queer and gender nonconforming youth of Tucson. Zack’s accomplishments include publishing his chapbook Forming Galaxies, presenting a workshop at the National Gathering of youth led Gay Straight Alliances, and representing Spoken Futures Inc. at a Youth Speaks Conference. Zack aims to write poetry he wish he heard as a scared closeted 14 year old in hopes that people in the community will listen, celebrate our differences, and love ourselves deeper, harder, and stronger.