Tucson Youth Poetry Slam

The young voices of Southern Arizona

Author: Lydia Havens (page 1 of 4)

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, September 2015- Review

By Eva Sierra and Lydia Havens

September 19th was our 2015 – 2016 Tucson Youth Poetry Slam season kick-off!

Much like last year, it was a hit!

The crowd filled up Bently’s and before we knew it, half of the crowd was standing. We made over $500 in donations–which we are so thankful for!

The night started off with a workshop led by Tomas Stanton, co-founder of Phoenix’s youth slam, Phonetic Spit. Tomas had the poets write about abstract concepts (love, hate, privilege, fear, etc.) in their work. Many poets shared their work with the entire group, and soon enough, everybody was pumped!

The enthusiasm was then fueled by the community meeting! After a rather social ice breaker, Spoken Futures staff introduced a number of new concepts for this 6th season of TYPS. (Six seasons!) First are the new guidelines and safety statement that were created to keep TYPS a safe space. You can read those here.

Second, is the new point system? Whaaaaat? Just about every other slam has a point system of sorts so we applied that method to TYPS. This is used to determine who qualifies for the championships and it is based on slamming, placing, volunteering, and participating in community events! You can learn all about that here.

At 6:55, fifteen poets (many first timers) made their way outside of Bentley’s to go over slam rules and unite for the all-important TYPS High-Five. Poets spilled blood and literal tears in a night on feminism, culture, love, and everything inbetween. Nights like this are a reminder that youth voice is a staple in our communities.

Overall the slam was an incredible, enlightening, and full of love. Audience members actively approached poets with appreciation for their works. We would like to express our absolute gratitude to Bentley’s House of Coffee and tea for staying open late for us and making this possible. We would also like to thank our volunteers and of course all of those in attendance. Your donations are appreciated and your support is what keeps this youth space growing.

Congratulations to this month’s winners!

Overall slam:

  1. Ty
  2. Jenni
  3. Bianca L.

First timer’s slam:

  1. Brittany B.

Our next slam will be on Saturday, October 17th! Same time, same place. Hope to see you there! In the meantime, check out this video from our winner!

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, May 2015 (Cover Slam)- Review

May Slam review by special guest blogger Zack Taylor


May was the Cover Slam which means the summer has officially started!  During the summer we give you a chance to break rules and poets were able to plagiarize and perform other poets works! We had poets recite the works of Megan Falley, Kendrick Lamar, and Beck Cooper!


Prior to the slam, the hosts, Eva and myself, ran a workshop about perspectives of celebrities, book characters, TV personalities, super heroes, and even alter egos to get everyone prepared for June’s Cosplay Slam.


DJ Dirtyverbs kicked off the night right with some cumbia hip hop remixes and the slam was on! We had a total of ten poets signed up with five first-timers. Eva, our host and new reigning TYPS champ, was our spotlight feature and covered poems by even yours truly!


Remember, we love first timers but we need second timers to keep coming as well! We are so pleased to have so many first timers every month but without second timers (and third timers, and fourth, and so on) TYPS wouldn’t continue grow. We need all of you!


I would like to give a big thank you to our volunteers; DJ Dirtyverbs, Araceli, Jose, Sarah, Maya, Eva, the judges, and the baristas at Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea.



1st Alex K.

2nd Cecilia

3rd Carmela


Highest Scoring First Timer:

Sarah P.

The next summer slams:

-June 20th: Cosplay slam
-July 18th: Identity slam (we’ll cover this in the June workshop)
-August 15th: Music slam

See you soon!

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam All City Championships 2015- Review

In case you missed it:

The TYPS Championships was MIND-BLOWING!

Nine of Southern Arizona’s best youth poets took the stage at Gallagher Theater on April 18th in front of over 160 people. They tackled rough topics such as Ferguson, education cuts, beauty standards, having children, illnesses, and religion, all while blowing the audience out of the water!

The theater was full of snaps and cheers for two and a half hours, drawing in passers-by and welcoming them in. We also had TWO special guest poets this year— Troy Osaki from Seattle opened us up, along with our feature, Mercedez Holtry from Albuquerque! They were absolutely amazing, and we are so glad they were able to be a part of this.

Continuing the tradition from last year, we were able to give the annual Sparkplug award to long-time TYPS supporter Adela Lincona, who gave us a moving speech about letting your voice be heard through poetry and social justice. We must say it again: thank you, Adela!

This could not have been possible without so many people, including our guest judges, Marc David Pinate, Terè Fowler Chapman, Amy Briseño, Mari Herraras, and Martina Dawley. We also had so many wonderful volunteers, including Jira-soul, our guest DJ; Enrique, our scorekeeper; Zami, our score reader; José, our timekeeper; Jason, our videographer; and Derrick, our photographer. Thank you’s are also in order to our two beautiful hosts, Zack and Araceli! We are also so grateful for every poet who participated— you are the beautiful backbone of TYPS! And finally, thank you to YOU, our audience and support system. You helped make all of this possible!

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

1st place: Eva S.

2nd Place: Lydia H.

3rd Place: Louie V.

Also, congratulations to this year’s participants!

Mackenzie S.

Paola V.

Zoe K.

Nichole S.

Rainna M.

Ames S.

We had an awesome time at our very first summer slam on May 16th! We’ll have a review up of that soon, written by a guest blogger! Until next time…

Tucson Youth Poetry Slam, March 2015- Review

by Guest Blogger Eva S.! 

The Tucson Youth Poetry Slam had an amazing last slam of the season! The excited poets and audience left an impression appropriate for our 5th season!

Our 5:00 PM workshop was lead by Spoken Future’s very own: Sarah Gonzales! Poets used their creative minds to create very different poems and stories on a very common topic—shoes. Personifying footwear and using satire our workshop participants used humor and wit to illustrate issues like social class and feeling left out. Also, a reminder that workshop participants do get first dibs on the slam!

Because the TYPS mic has been poppin’ lately, we had to make cuts to our sign up list in order to keep our three-round slams. Everyone in the workshop was guaranteed a spot and cuts were made to those signing up after. Another reason to go to the workshop!

Poets blew the audience away, leaving everyone’s snapping fingers sore and the word “PREACH” echoing in everyone’s ears. Our feature poet Chezale brought a totally different vibe to the mic that night! Everyone was taken back by her hip hop number, including a song from her new album “MAVMUZIK.”

The slam was definitely a wonderful way to celebrate World Poetry Day and we’d like to thank everyone involved. A huge thank you to Bentley’s for being our place to be every third Saturday. Thank you to our beautiful hosts Araceli and Apple. And as always thank you for our volunteers; DJ Jirasol, videographer, timekeeper, and scorekeeper.

Don’t forget our all-city championships are next month! We want this to be our biggest championships EVER! April 18th (third Saturday) from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Gallagher Theatre at the University of Arizona Student Union (1303 E. University Blvd — parking in 2nd St Garage). Check out youth and special performance by Alburquerque’s Mercedez Holtry. As always it is free! Also, if you are a poet who has slammed during the 2014 – 2015 season be sure to sign up here:
Congratulations to this month’s winners!

First Place: Mackenzie

Second Place: Itzel

Third Place: Eva


Highest scoring first timer: Alondra!

See you all at the championships!

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!



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