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Dallas Youth Poets, Brave New Voices
by Hady Mawajdeh 11 Jul 2016

Six teenage poets from across Dallas are headed to Washington DC this week for an international slam poetry festival. The poets are part of the Dallas Youth Poets.

The Dallas Youth Poets is a program aimed at helping young writers hone their craft and find a way to showcase their talents. The program is is facilitated by award-winning teacher and poet Joaquin Zihuatanejo.

The program started in 2012 and has been flourishing ever since. This year the squad participated in regional and national competitions, but this Tuesday they will head out to Washington DC for Brave New Voices, a poetry slam festival for young people.

Brave New Voices brings young poets from all over to participate in workshops, showcases and a high stakes competition. Though the festival is a fun experience for the poets, it’s also a great chance for them to get big time recognition. Finalist in the main competition will be featured on HBO and it will be interesting to see just how far these young writers can soar.

If you’d like to get a taste of what these poets’ performances are like then check out the audio below:

“Fat Black Girl” Written and Performed by Gabriel Edwards, Erica Johnson & Aubrey Smith


All: Wake up
AS: Roll out of bed
GE: Zombie walk to the shower
EJ: Don’t forget

All: Wash under every crevice, fold, roll
AS: Every crease that dirt could be hiding on my body

All: Get out
GE: Check the mirror
AS: Suck in insecurities like checking for rib bone

******suck in******

All: They’re never there
EJ: Moisturize thighs one hand full of lotion at a time
GE: Slather coconut oil between to keep from chafing

All: I hate chafing
EJ: Beat myself into beat face makeup
AS & GE: Rid myself of this fat girl face
GE: Pull layers of skin back
AS: Double chins
EJ: Rolled necks and chubby cheeks
GE: The first time I got called fat was 5th grade.

GE: My doctor said I was on the cliff hanging tight to obese and that my fat arms weren’t going to hold on much longer.

All: I just didn’t realize that being skinny wasn’t enough for me
All: My tiger stripes are dark, brown, and beautiful.
All: And comfort food can be eaten at all times

AS: Trapped in a dressing room like caged animal
The bulk of my thighs hanging out of

GE: jeans that were supposed to be my size,
EJ & GE: stuck on the magnitude of me
AS: Reflections surrounding me
Guilt and tears glazed over their eyes
Looking back at me like

All: You just had to eat that shit (Expletive)you

All: I cried so hard that I laughed
All: I laughed so hard that I cried
EJ: There was a time that being fat was adorable.
And chubby cheeks were a temporary pastime for old ladies to squeeze.

All: I wasn’t supposed to stay that way.
GE: Consistently feeling like a failure spiraling into constant depressions that look like
EJ & GE: Stuffing my face with hot Cheetos and snack cakes.
EJ: Starving myself for days at a time.
All: Some days I hate my body but on the days that I love it I let everybody know
All: I don’t think they understand that being black and fat is different
All: That being thinner isn’t enough for us
All: That we must, Waist train torture ourselves
EJ: Carve out thin waist from excess flesh and snapped bones
GE & EJ: Flatten the abdomen with just enough fat to tuck the muscle
All: Wretch the fat from your vocabulary like strict diet
EJ: Sugar coat that (Expletive) with splenda flavored euphemisms
AS: Thick
EJ: Curvy
GE: Chubby
All: Unhinge our jaw like submission
EJ: Spoon fed undertones of coke bottle cockiness
AS: And stick figure stunning
GE: Choke it down like weight loss pills and wait for the pounds to drop
All: I don’t think they understand that skinny was never enough for us, that our black is fat
EJ: And fat is beautiful
GE: And every power we own is beautiful
All: I, fat black girl, am beautiful
EJ: When I look in the mirror
AS: One day
GE: I won’t feel the need to

*******suck in******

AS: Because my tummy needs sunlight
EJ: And my curves are deeper than my pigment
All: Fat black girl, On the bad days

GE: When you can’t shape yourself into the right kind of fat
AS: When your waist line won’t bend to your will
EJ: When your body betrays you
All: Remember you are beautiful
EJ: Remember you are allowed to bend
GE: to break
AS: But you are also allowed to stand tall

GE: Life is too fleeting to relinquish to a three letter word
AS: Bask in the glory of your good days
EJ:  Carry them deep in your stomach
GE: And let them fill you

All: Own every bit of space you take up

Fat black girl,

On the bad days

Remember you are beautiful

You are more than enough

“Puppeteer” Written by Dakota Zihuatanejo and Performed by Dakota Zihuatanejo, Athena Davidson, Erica Johnson & Caroline Kibby

During the performance, Erica stands behind Dakota as her puppeteer and Kibby stands behind Athena as her puppeteer. At rise Athena and Dakota are collapsed on each other.

CK+EJ pull their puppets up from the space between them

DZ & AD: His touch was the first string, tied my senses up with shots

Everyone’s right arm up

DZ: One

Everyone’s right arm up

AD: Two

Everyone’s right arm up

DZ & AD: Three, maybe four, maybe more

Everyone’s right arm up on the bold words

EJ & CK: It’s hard to have a conversation

DZ+AD Turn inward

EJ &CK: When someone else pulls your strings

Everyone Jerk outward, EJ+CK with arms

DZ & AD: When you don’t feel like a real girl,

Cross arms over chest

DZ & AD: When you don’t feel anything

Drop arms and swing

EJ & CK: We remember boys with sweet voices, promising hope, promising freedom
but a puppet can only run as far as the strings let her

Runs motion, right leg and left hand; jerk backward

DZ: As far as the shots

AD: As far as that voice full of lies

Cover ears

DZ & AD: lets me.

I’m a real girl, I thought?

DZ+AD Tilt head to the left

DZ & AD: Your fingers felt so nice against my strings
I mean scars

Twitch chin toward shoulder

I mean skin

Twitch chin toward shoulder

EJ &CK: You mean sin

EJ+CK left hand up to head; D+A  straighten head

DZ & AD: Consent was not the other person in the room,
Puppets don’t ask to be tied down

E+K arms up; D+A Wrists locked and up

DZ: I was wearing leggings,
AD: Chucks,

DZ & AD: and a Mickey mouse Tee.

DZ+AD Lower wrists to waist

DZ & AD: I thought I got no strings on me

DZ+AD wrists still locked, reaching out

EJ &CK: Trust me
You won’t be the only person in the room

DZ+AD collapse into each other, EJ+CK step outside and speak into front mics

Who’s uncomfortable.
DZ: He tied the first string around my hips

EJ+DZ swing right arm around to hip

AD: then my lips,

CK+AD swing left arm over mouth

DZ & AD: I’ve never bit them closed so tightly.
His touch petrified me

Everyone lowers hands, slightly shaking fingers

EJ &CK: Made you less girl and more marionette

*Wait two seconds to get back in position*

EK+CK step forward, lean with mic stand, lower hand over DZ+AD’s face;

DZ+AD faces change from smile to blank face when palms cross eyes

DZ & AD: I was only a tad tipsy at the time

EJ+CK sway hands overhead, DZ+AD sway body with the same beat, right to left

DZ & AD: Swear I was aware of myself,

EJ+CK drop, DZ+AD anchor straight

DZ: sad
AD: and dazed
ALL: at the same time
DZ & AD: Where did these strings come from?
look at hands left to right

DZ & AD: I never felt so uncomfortable from touch. quickly bring down left hand then slowly slide down right hand, creepily caressing body

DZ & AD: I tried so hard to distance myself.
kota and athena drop down leaning into one another on the word self

EJ & CK: My tragic puppet girl
EJ & CK: On a dimly lit stage
DZ & AD: Never ready to talk about it.
bring inner hand to shield one anothers mouth

DZ & AD: A wooden vessel can’t talk
Let alone feel bring down right hand and up left to meet at frontal underwear region at “feel”

DZ: I remember pulling his hand away from my underwear
remove both hands swiftly backwards on “pulling”

AD: I remember he entered without asking
Lean forward and put hands over stomach

DZ & AD: He more boy than man
EJ & CK: You more mannequin than woman
Kibby and Erica put their hands from bottom to top on Kota and Athena’s face to make them smile creepily-they immediately shake it off along with their hands

DZ & AD: He saw flesh
Never saw me
I got so many goddamn strings on me
We have always gotten
So used to being forgotten
After this line bring hands from outside to marionette position

EJ & CK: Left dangling in the hands of neglectful men
sway body from right to left on the boldes words and ease into shouting position by “men”

DZ & AD: I should’ve yelled.
leave hands at mouth

EJ & CK:         The silent girl made of wood
stretch straight arms out behind back in a christlike manner with closed fists

DZ & AD: I could’ve told him no sharply bring arms down with closed fists

DZ: After his hand reached into my clothes
cross right arm down toward kidney

AD: into me
bring left arms crossed up to heart

DZ & AD: He trespassed this body.
bring arms down on tresspassed

But I had no scissors
And oh
so many strings on me
Don’t you see
That night will always be apart of me,
CK & EJ: And so will he.
DZ & AD: His shadow loomed over me.
bring hands up in “x” above head on “loomed” and throw them down on “that”

I thought his hands
would always hold one end of the string,
And for that,
I regret so much.
But now I have told one person.
bring up right arm palm facing you

Cut one string
face palm outward on “cut”

Have at least one chance of being heard
bring up left arm palm facing you

Cut two more   face palm outward on “cut”

By anyone
On this stage (look at each other)
By anyone
In this room (look back to the audience) face palms outward)
Still speaking
Still cutting
Look… (with one final cutting gesture E and K
fall into each other’s arms lifeless)
I’m free

sung?

I got

no strings

on me.

“Shorties” Written and Performed by Dakota Zihuatanejo, Athena Davidson & Aubrey Smith (Cameo by Caroline Kibby)

DZ: This is for the ones who are verbally abused,

AD: For the ones who are always being leaned on

AS: This is for those that’re looked down upon.

All: Literally.

AS: is it because we are feminists?

AD & DZ: maybe.

AS: Is it because we are meninists?

(looks at Aubrey)

All: Hell no!

(looks at Aubrey)

AS: its because we are all…very..very

All: SHORT

DZ: We are SO tired of being talked down to by people who are taller than 5’2”

AD: You are not cool.

AS: You’re not better than us.

All: You’re just tall.

All: And that’s it. Nothing else.

DZ: You think I’m happy the cashier at McDonald’s mistakes me as a child and hands me a kids meal?

All: Pa dad a da duh…

AD & AS: I’M HATIN IT *serious tone*

AD: I hate not being able to reach things.

AS: Having to-

All: God forbid,

AS: Ask a taller person to get that thing off the shelf,

AD: the refrigerator,

DZ: the wall.

All: It feels like the world was built for other people.

AS: The saddest story ever told goes like this

All: (Expletive) YOU ROLLERCOASTER RIDE MAN!

AS: Hosts still ask me if I’d like crayons when I walk into their restaurants

All: Hell nah I don’t want no crayons…okay…I kinda want some crayons!

____________________________________________________________

AD: And to all you tall poets

DZ: Thinking what can all these shorties teach us about being epic?

AS: You can metaphorically suck it!

AD: Because little did you know that someone this low

All: Could rock a frickin’ microphone

AS: We don’t even need an entire 3 minutes

to blow your damn mind.

AD: Haiku?

DZ & AS: No problem!

DZ: Lightning round?

AD & AS: No problem!

CK: A tall person making a cameo in your…short…poem

All: PROBLEM!

Beware slamming against us.

We may be small

But being fun size is just

too damn awesome.

 

 

 

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