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Say it Out Loud

Youth Poetry Slam League Kicks Off Fourth Year

WritersCorps, a nationally renowned program dedicated to helping individuals succeed through the power of writing, is celebrating spoken word with a series of youth poetry slams taking place throughout the city during the next few months. This competitive "sport," which brings together the power of words with the drama of performance, has inspired kids and teenagers to speak their minds from schoolrooms and stages throughout the country.

Founded in 1994, WritersCorps utilizes the power of the written and spoken word to strengthen the development and potential of individuals and communities by providing established writers as teachers, mentors and resources for creative literary expression. WritersCorps has helped more than 15,000 people in some of America's most disadvantaged neighborhoods speak the truth about their lives.

The Youth Poetry Slam League (YPLS), which began in 1998 with a grant from Borders Books & Music, builds on the success of WritersCorps in bringing writing and poetry to inner city kids whose access to the arts is often limited.

According to Janet Heller, project manager of San Francisco WritersCorps (a project of the San Francisco Arts Commission), the league has been instrumental in helping young people, ages 12 to 19, develop their performance skills, improve their confidence, and share their point of view with a wider audience.

"Participating in our slam helps our kids be better writers and they receive a lot of encouragement by taking the risk to perform," said Heller. "It takes courage to put your work out to an audience and we find our students benefit from being a part of this kind of reading."

Jam to the live rhythms of the rhyming, rapping, reasoning, truth-telling, as YPSL slam poets tell it like it is, how it has been, and how it will be. For further information, please call (415) 252-4655.

With Olympic-style judging, these poetry slams will be a welcome diversion from the telecasted events in Salt Lake City. Be sure to get out and take a listen. Upcoming Youth Poetry Slam League free events:

Friday, February 22 @ 7 pm
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco

Friday, March 22 @ 7 pm
Borders Books and Music, Stonestown Mall, 233 Winston Drive, San Francisco

Friday, April 5 @ 7 pm
SOMARTS, 934 Brannan Street, San Francisco -- Slam Finals