Tucson Youth Poetry Slam

The young voices of Southern Arizona

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Poem from Eva S., Winner of the January Slam!


On September 21st, 2014, I received an anonymous question asking if I would ever date someone who wasn’t Mexican.

Now, while stupid, it is a valid question.
Many say it can be a challenge to date someone of a different background, and doing so often results in the suppressing of one’s customs, language, etc.

So, my answer to you, wonderful anonymous person of the internet, is yes, because we are all the same.

Well, no, technically we’re not the same at all.
We’re just not built the same and with the intent to do the same things.

For example, a brown boy may struggle to reach the top shelf, similar to how a white boy probably can’t get down to a cumbia.

I pay attention to the differences in customs and colors because they’re too special to ignore.

But instead of letting those differences divide us, let them bring us together.
Get to know each other. Get a little interesting.

If we date,
I want you to tell me about your culture, baby. Let’s talk about what kind of food your mom makes, baby.
I love it when you talk to me about your grandparents, baby.

Tell me your story, baby, whether your family came here 300 years ago or 5 years ago or if they were here this whole time.
The point is that you’re here
And this is now, and

When it gets down to business, I don’t care whether your skin is brown or black or red or yellow or white.
I’ll look you in the eyes and love it, regardless of color.

And tonight, baby, I wanna dig my nails deep into your roots. I wanna talk all night long. So much so that by the next day, I’ll have had lost my voice. I love that big background of yours. And I want you to turn me into an expert.

Use that mouth to teach me your language
Use those hips to show me your moves
Use those hands to cook your favorite meals for me

Indulge me in your customs and your culture and the rights and the wrongs because I would rather learn from you than from some fucking textbook.

Tell me about God and what role he plays in your life.
Tell me why you wear your clothes that way or why you eat your meals that way.

I want you to be proud of your culture
Celebrate the victories your people made
Learn from the mistakes your people made
Fill in the blanks
Connect the dots
Teach me what you know and let’s learn what you don’t together

Baby just please, don’t strain yourself making that accent.
Don’t tuck your faith underneath your shirt
Don’t hide behind layers of neutral-colored shame and regret
Peel back the layers, share your knowledge
Because dating someone should never mean abolishing your roots.

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, January 2015- Review

We at TYPS rang in the new year by BREAKING EVEN MORE RECORDS! With a whopping twenty-six poets on the mic (four of which were teachers!), and a crowd that went all the way out the door of Bentley’s, this was a slam you had to see to believe!

The night started off at 5:00 PM with a workshop by teacher and long-time TYPS supporter Teresa Driver. Teresa had our participating poets draw a map of a place where something important occurred, then gave them a list of prompts, like “Write about the most blood you’ve ever seen within your map” or “Write about a time you screamed”. As the workshop went on, more poets trickled in, and by 6:00 PM, Bentley’s was packed!

Our record-breaking first annual Teacher Slam was a huge success! Teachers and youth went hand-in-hand with their poetry, tackling topics such as being revolutionary, cancer, grandmothers, being Native American, and being an ally. We also had our incredible feature, Kai M. Green, spit absolute truth about racism, childhood trials, and losing people you love.

Because we had so many poets on the mic (let’s say it again: TWENTY-SIX!), there ended up only being ONE round for the entire slam. But no matter what, it was still a night of fire. Thank you to Bentley’s for being the very best venue a slam could ask for. Thank you to our spectacular co-hosts, Araceli and Enrique. Thank you to our volunteer videographer, timekeeper and scorekeeper. Thank you to our special guest, DJ Dirtyverbs, for spinning some amazing jams! Thank you to our spotlight poet, Louie V., for a phenomenal poem to close out a phenomenal night (which you can see here). And of course, thank you to the poets and the audience! This would never, ever be possible without you!

Congratulations to this month’s winners!

Overall slam:

Eva S.

Paola V.

Zoe K.

First-timer’s slam:

Alondra V.

First annual teacher slam:

Martina D.

See you all on February 21st! Same time, same place, more information to come. In the meantime, check out these videos from our feature and our winner!

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam- January Teacher Slam! Feat. Kai M. Green!

Happy New Year Poets! We hope your holidays and break have treated you well! This month marks our second half of the TYPS season! I hope you all are as excited as we are!

How many of you wonder what it would be like to hear your teacher on the mic?! Well now you don’t have to! Following our amazing and heart-warming family slam – this month, we will be having a TEACHER SLAM! So, along with our regular youth poets on the mic, we’ve reached out to a few specific teachers that will be competing with each other! It will be in a style of a competition within a competition, similar to what happens when we figure out the highest scoring first timers for every month! Nothing in the competition changes, except for the fact that we get to hear some work from the people that are your biggest supporters!

PLUS: we have an unforgettable feature to that will be in the house!

You won’t want to miss this! See you then!

SATURDAY January 17th!

SLAM WORKSHOP & Volunteer Meeting: 5:00-6:30pm

POETRY SLAM: 7:00-9:30pm, signup at 6:30
Hosted by: ARACELI M. and ENRIQUE G!
Spotlight Poet: LOUIE V!
Music: Special Guest DJ DIRTY VERBS!
Feature: Kai M. Green!

At BENTLEY’S 1730 E Speedway
Near the UofA, across from Mcdonalds! Extra parking behind the building and in the UA lot on Cherry & Speedway.

A bit about our amazing feature:


Kai M. Green is a writer, scholar, poet, filmmaker, abolitionist, feminist, and whatever else it takes to make a new and more just world. Through writing and organizing, Kai has become a strong, visible voice in the Black Trans community and in the LGBT community generally. He believes that writing and story telling are revolutionary acts, especially for those who are often erased by heteronormative and Eurocentric histories. His goal is not simply to be a voice for the people; his goal is to always be making space and room for others to share their own truths and find their own voices. Kai is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Sexuality Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern.

Happy 2015!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam!  2014 was an incredible year for us, and it couldn’t have been possible without your support! Here is a sneak peek of what TYPS will be doing this year:


The first ever Teacher Slam, January 17th!

This kicks off 2015 and the rest of the slam season will lead us into …


The 5th annual TYPS All City Championships, April 18th!
All youth slam poets who have competed in any slam of the 2014-2015 season will be eligible for the Championships. Keep an eye out for the sign-ups, space is limited. But we don’t stop there, join us for …


The Summer Slams!
Slams in the summer months are always unique–keep tuned in here for upcoming slam themes and practice expanding your creativity. Maybe we will have another Comedy Slam or Cosplay Slam!


We are so excited for 2015, and hope you are too! Have a safe and happy New Year, and we will see you on January 17!

Much love,

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam!

Poem from Louie V., Winner of the December Slam!

The Human Sound

There is an ancient whisper muttered in silence
It is deafening.
I have heard it & so have you.
It is first whispered during pregnany
It lingers long after death.
some spend the entirity of their lives searching for it
some never hear it
even still, some wish to suffocate the sound…

An ancient sound
This collection of hearts
we may not want to acknowledge it
but this is a holy war…
They’re trying to make us sit proper;
say we live too loudly
speak blindly.
that we ought to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves
But I stopped checking myself because I’m already wrecked.
My whispering heart can barely keep me upright.
It speaks through shreddedd vocal chords.
But it need not speak, only whisper.
So stand in my wake, let the breeze hum you my legacy.

And let it be known that on this day
I wrote a constitution
In which it states that
The human sound ought not be silenced.
I signed it with my blood
Dotted my “i”s with tears.

An ancient sound
This collection of hearts
let yours hear mine whisper
may yours forever beat.
and when my body gives way to the wind
this poem please repeat.

There is an ancient whisper muttered in silence…

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, December 2014- Review

“AMAZING” is perhaps the only word to describe how our 4th Annual Family Slam went! Another night of amazing poetry, amazing family members on the mic, an amazing crowd… just amazing!

The night kicked off with a writing workshop run by Spoken Futures staff members Lydia and Maya and centered around Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son”. The workshop was followed by the community meeting where youth talked about recent police brutality cases against African Americans. Youth constructed a poem using lines from 30 different poems about police violence by poets of color. (you can see that here).

At the slam, we had ELEVEN competing poets, EIGHT of which were first timers! We witnessed an amazing piece from our December Spotlight Poet, Lydia H. (whose performance you can see here).  Our families got on the mic too!  We heard from a grandmother, a mother and a sister who each shared stories of how TYPS has impacted them and the youth in their family. Our fearless slam hosts, Ara and Enrique made it a fantastic night! Bentley’s was vibrating from all the love!

Big thanks again to all the volunteers who make the TYPS run! Thank you to Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea for staying open late for us (special thanks to Mia Barista who found our lost microphones!).

Congratulations to this month’s winners!

Overall slam:


  1. Louie V.

  2. Zoe K.

  3. Chloe W.


First timer’s slam:


  1. Jessica Q.


On behalf of everyone at Spoken Futures, Inc. and the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, we hope you all have very happy holidays! We will see you at our first slam of 2015, on January 17th. Much love!


Check out this video from December’s winner! Please visit our YouTube channel to see all the family videos and much more!



Poem from Lydia H., Winner of the November Slam!

“I know I am because I said I am.” -Mary Lambert

I was twelve when I first used the word “queer” to describe myself to a girl in my computers class. My tongue tripped over the “Q” like it was a shoelace. I made her swear on her Holy Pre Algebra textbook that she wouldn’t tell anybody. She wouldn’t tell anybody. She wouldn’t tell anybody… she told the guy she’d been dating for three days. This guy told all of his friends. His friends started leaving bastardized Bible Psalms in my locker. I suppressed the memory of my combination. I suppressed the idea of being open, and I carried my weight on my own.

I like to think I became all the right kinds of shadow, all the right kinds of ugly. Girls I had never met before asked me if I had a crush on them and a traffic jam started in my chest. I was told I was “disgusting” on a regular basis and my jaw turned to barbed wire in my head. They shoved me in science class and I bruised like confinement. But I never looked away. I never struck back. Maybe I was all the right cowardly. Maybe I was all the right brave.

Now, people aren’t sure what to make of this. Me. I am so young. I shouldn’t be so sure of my weathered heart. And I saw the girl who outed me, three years later, in the supermarket. She looked at me like I was a plane crash; she couldn’t look away from my reflection in the freezers. Perhaps I am a plane crash, a travesty, a tragedy. But at least there were no casualties. At least we all made it out alive. At least at the end of the day I can look at the embers and say that I made it. I do not need to confirm if I’m gay or if I’m not. What I need to do is be proud of myself, all these kinds of myself, because

I know I am because I said I am
I know I am because I said I am
I know I am because I said I am

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, November 2014: Review

During this time where we are able to reflect on what we are thankful for, we at the Tucson Youth Poetry Slam are SO thankful for everybody who made it to the November Slam!

It all started with the workshop led by TYPS alumni and Spoken Futures staff member, Enrique Garcia! Enrique’s workshop focused on writing creative nonfiction. Each poet wrote about a specific historical event that had stuck with them, ranging from the passing of SB1070 to the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire to the Spanish Inquisition. That night, Enrique also did double the work by featuring AND DJ-ing! Reading from his book Tortoise Boy Says (published by Spoken Futures Press in 2014), Enrique gave us poems that were as diverse and powerful as Tucson itself.

There were THIRTEEN poets on the mic and NINE first timers! Poets spoke on a diverse range of lived experiences from dealing with the death of a loved one to not feeling accepted by family. If you didn’t attend the slam, you also missed out on a poem about a killer pomegranate! The November slam showcased all our super fierce poets and we can’t wait to see them on the mic again in December!

We, as always, have many people to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you to our volunteer videographer, scorekeeper and timekeeper. Thank you to DJ Queue (aka Enrique Garcia) for spinning the greatest jams. Thank you to Cecilia M., last month’s winner, for a wonderful spotlight feature (which you can see here!). Thank you to Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea for staying open late for us and being a wonderful sanctuary for young poets. And as always, thank YOU– yes, you. You, the one who drove through post-football-game traffic to get to TYPS on time. You, who donated during both baskets pass-arounds. You, who couldn’t make it to the November slam, but swore you’d make it to the next one while watching all of the YouTube videos. Thank you to all of you for your support. It means so, so much.

Congratulations to this month’s winners!

Overall slam:


  1. Lydia H.

  2. Louie V.

  3. Christiana S.


First timer’s slam:


  1. Verena M.


REMINDER: The December slam is on the second Saturday, not the third. Poets, also remember to bring your family! If you do, you’ll be entered into a super special raffle. See you then! In the meantime, check out these videos from our feature and our winner:


Poem from Cecilia M., Winner of the September & October Slams!

You are the only thing that causes me to lose focus, distracted don’t get distracted. Everyone says to listen to your heart but if a stethoscope were to be taken to my chest you would hear nothing but my blood entering through my inferior and superior vena cava, blue and choking. You could hear the shuttering of my valves into my right atrium the contraction of travel to my right ventricle around again, running through open mitral doors into my left ventricle finally sweeping out red and rich in oxygen from my left atrium out my pulmonary vein. So even if I wanted to listen to my heart, its repetitive “lub dub” is getting me nowhere. I tried to listen to my feet and though they were screaming to run they planted to invisible concrete blocks weighing down with the beat of a thousand drums I will never march to. I tired, to listen to my knees but as soon as I spoke they buckled under the weight; it’s not that I couldn’t stand the thought of you it’s that I couldn’t stand to the thought of you. I tired listening for my stomach but it is starving for the feeling of focus, the bile is dripping, I’m a bit more nauseous than usual today so I swallow back the acid that slavers from my mouth when I miss you which brings my attention to my throat. We can skip that though, it’s fucking busy right now. M jaw, my lips, my hands all crack and clench. The catharsis of breaking my bones like a fruit that has no guts, a book that has no spine. I hole my courage in the cupboard of my ribcage, contort, restore- don’t be a coward. Didn’t anyone ever tell you- you need to sit up straight.

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, October 2014- Review

The October Tucson Youth Poetry Slam was a night full of tricks AND treats, just in time for Halloween! Breaking even more records in a night full of amazing poetry, this was a night we are glad we did not miss!

Poets started out at 5:00 PM with a workshop led by the feature,Tere Fowler-Chapman. The prompt asked what exactly went “bump” in the night, and the answers were haunting. Tere also got the poets to practice performing their own writing. We really loved that! During Tere’s feature, she dropped wisdom on topics such as love, growing up, and racism.

The slam itself had a whopping THIRTEEN poets competing, TEN of which were first-timers! Each and every one of them shared poems that were absolutely from the heart, and amazing. A total of 22 poems from competitors that night gave the audience insight on everything from mothers to substance abuse to the science of the body to cars! This slam was the definition of bravery. It reminded us all that Tucson Youth Poetry Slam is a community. We are a family.

As always, we must give all of our thanks to our volunteers working the camera, scorekeeping and timekeeping. Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea: MUCHAS GRACIAS for housing our slam and serving us the most wonderful food and drink. And, of course, thank you to everybody who attended! You are our backbone, our absolute foundation of support. Without you, we wouldn’t have broken ANOTHER attendance and donation record, with the second consecutive standing-room-only audience, AND a total of $404 made in donations!

Congratulations to this month’s winners!

Overall Slam:

  1. Cecilia M.
  2. Louie V.
  3. Lydia H.

First Timers’ Slam:

  1. Anna C.

Our next slam is Saturday, November 15th! Same time, same place! Until then, check out these videos from our feature and winner!

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