This is a guest post by Gabriel Armando Barralaga, a 17-year-old Harlemite and youth poet at Urban Word NYC. Among other accomplishments, Gabriel won the 2011 city-wide youth speak competition held by the YMCA in May of 2011, and officially declared himself an artist thereafter.
Before poetry I didn’t have much in mind about what my future would look like, but now I’m excited and motivated about the endless possibilities that art is placing in my path. It all started at Urban Word where I attended a series of workshops at the main site located in downtown Manhattan that helped me develop my own voice in poetry whether it be on stage or off the page. Then just a few weeks ago, I placed first in the NY Knicks Poetry Slam and received a $10,000 educational grant. You can check out my performance here, it’s called “Vision Fade”.
Next I’m headed to a semi-final round then hopefully to the 14th annual http://www.urbanwordnyc.org/uwnyc/Urban Word New York City teen poetry slam. It’s an astonishing event where teen poets from all five boroughs and New Jersey share their thoughts, hearts, voices, and souls. This slam consists of three rounds: the preliminary and semi-final rounds held at some of the many performing arts venues in the city, like the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe, Bowery Poetry Club, Saint Mark’s Church, “The Poetry Project” and The Point in the Bronx. If advanced through each round, these thirteen to nineteen year old poets will have found their way to the GRAND SLAM FINAL April 7th at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, where they will give everything they got, to a theater that seats 1,500. Once their mouths open it’s 3,000 eyes on them. Finally, 6 of the 24 poets go to California (all expenses paid) where they will compete for the title of “Brave New Voices Champion 2012.” Win or lose, everyone gains an experience they will never forget. Ready? Set. Flow.
Watch the streamed performances on April 7 here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/urban-word-nyc-live