This weekend, four students from the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy at MACLA Arte represented San Jose at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam.
The festival started on Wednesday, July 18th with writing and poetry workshops open to young people ages 13-20, held at John O’Connell High School in San Francisco. Thursday and Friday, the UC Berkeley campus hosted young people competing with their peers through quarter- and semi-finals, concluding with the final round of poetry slam competitions on Saturday.
“Poetry has helped me find my voice that I was always afraid to share. I used to cower away from confrontation, but now I seem to face it head on without fear. Poetry has opened a door inside of me and has allowed me to be free,” says Amanda Pea, who at 14 years old was the youngest student to compete from the MACLA team.
Empowerment is a theme that features prominently in the poem that helped Amanda move on to the semi-finalist round:
Finding your voice is the most important thing
and when someone says your voice means nothing
remember to breathe then SCREAM
Noa Tia also joined the MACLA team, placing well in the slam with a personal poem about body image in society. “At times it was hard because we wanted to win, yet we had to remember that win or lose we had to leave our hearts on the stage,” says Noa about his experience at the competition.
Now in 11th grade, Noa says that writing has been a passion of his since he was a child. “Writing is important to me because it is the best way I can speak my mind.”
Watch this video of Noa performing his poem, “I Got That Body”, at the Brave New Voices competition: