A young poet's report home

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Dutchtown High School senior, Amaris Wilson, 16 performs a poem at the 2015 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, held July 16-18 in Atlanta, Ga.

First of all, my experience at the Brave New Voices International Youth poetry Slam (BNV), held July 16-18 in Atlanta, Ga., is one that is kind of hard to put into words, but I will try to anyway.

The first thing I enjoyed about BNV is that, in the first two days, the participants do some community building before the competition even starts, which is great, because I am not an especially outgoing person. Being encouraged to interact with people, people from other states or even other countries, was really beneficial. Even after the competition started, there was such a sense of camaraderie between everyone there – the competition seemed to not even matter, when the time came for it. But the competition did happen, and even though some teams lost and some teams won, everyone was incredibly supportive of a each other and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. And if someone lost, everyone still congratulated them for being there – for being a part of it, and being contenders – and it was such a beautiful experience in that aspect. Overall, BNV was so amazing, and it was so great getting to see people my age – people just like me – changing the world. People who, through poetry, are activists, and who are speaking up for those whose voices usually go unheard.

I will say, the worst and best parts of BNV were coming home. It was saddening to leave such a beautiful atmosphere, but I am excited to be back home and to try and create such an atmosphere in my own community of Ascension Parish.

Wilson was a member of the 2015 Forward Arts All Stars – a poetry slam team sponsored by the arts-based non-profit organization Forward Arts, Inc. (Baton Rouge). Students, ages 13-19 who are interested in poetry slam, writing workshops and teen open mic poetry readings can find more information at ForwardArts.org.