They have the brightest eyes and smiles. They read Shakespeare and honor him in their monologues. They recently packed out the performance hall at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Student Center where teens and college-age youth buzzed with anticipation for the spoken word poetry they were about to hear. For these performers, a bare-naked stage presents their art just right; their words, only, take the limelight. Turning words to action, these youth grow into movers and shakers of our cities.

“Through words, all youth claim the power and hope to determine their future.”

–Youth Speaks Nashville vision statement

As we look to the New Year, Nashville Arts thought it would be exciting to catch up with Youth Speaks Nashville, these bright minds and wordsmiths, to learn their wishes for our world.

The warm, steely-eyed Nashville director, Benjamin Smith, wears his paternal instincts on his sleeve when it comes to his poets. Protective and thoughtful, he pondered rather than jumped at the idea of doing an article. Fortunately, it took little persuasion once we starting talking about their goals and what the kids hope to accomplish in 2010. We hope our readers will tune in as these poets change the world with their words one performance at a time.

This month’s featured poet, Sebastian Jones on p.86, also represents Youth Speaks Nashville, a civic organization that promotes youth literacy and artistic development. www.youthspeaksnashville.org

Our sincere thanks to New York City Magazine for the inspiration.


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