The D.C. Youth Poetry Team

The teens of Split This Rock’s D.C. Youth Slam Team (DCYST) are the 2014 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival champions.

Gathering over 500 youth poets ages 13-19, the 2014 Brave New Voices (BNV) festival was held in Philadelphia, Pa. from July 16 to 19. Youth attendees participated in poetry writing and performance workshops, town hall discussions, open mics, service learning and a series of poetry slam bouts. In each slam bout, team members recited 4-5 rounds of original poems individually or as a group that were then scored by a panel of judges. The scores from the bouts then determined which four teams of more than 50 would
compete at the Grand Slam Finals on July 19.

The DCYST advanced to the Grand Slam after winning first place in all of its preceding bouts. This year’s Grand Slam also included Los Angeles, California; Cape Town, South Africa; and Denver, Colorado, the two time reigning champion.

In 2013, the DCYST placed 2nd at Brave New Voices. One of the team’s performances at last year’s Grand Slam has now been viewed over 1.5 million times on Youtube.

Currently comprised of 12 members, the DCYST was represented at BNV this year by Morgan Butler (17), a 2014 graduate of Woodrow Wilson Senior High School (D.C.); Malachi Byrd (17), a 2014 graduate of Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy (D.C.); Thomas Hill (17), a rising senior at Magruder High School (Md.); and Chyna McCombs (17), a 2014 graduate of Friendly High School (Md).