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Poets are Present: DC Youth Slam Team

Poets are Present is a poetry residency in conjunction with David Ives’s adaptation of The Metromaniacs. As part of this unique theatre/poetry exchange, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is proud to host more than 30 D.C.-area poets in the theatre’s lobby. Throughout the run, we will share with you the poems that this residency inspired our guests to write. Visit ourPoets are Present page to see a list of upcoming poets.

DC Youth Poetry Slam Team

The DC Youth Slam Team uses poetry to teach and empower teens from the DC metropolitan area to speak up about issues of social justice. With free weekly writing workshops, monthly open mics, poetry slams, and annual travel to regional and international competitions, the team provides training and a platform for talented youth to develop their poetry and public speaking skills with guidance from mentors and peers.

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the talk (after gayle danley)

by Lauren May

 one day
ill be ripe enough to bear children
and they will be as sweet as the blackest berries from the bush
two of them
i suppose
ill pick their afros
read them poems
push all of my opinions
and beliefs on them
we should be free enough to be whomever we want to be
and that God made fries to satisfy my salt-tooth

ill speak to them of knowledge
remind them often that its the only thing that cant be taken away
because the world will try to mold my babies
im sure
press them into societies oven at 425
until crisp
and golden brown
but my tongue is too quick and backhand for the taste

according to my mom
when they ask me
why i went to prom with a girl

ill tell them
she was the coldest fire i ever had the pleasure of embracing
that her touch filled me with a thousand erupting volcanoes
she reminded me of what having a crush felt like
ill tell them that her smile made my heart melt
into a thousand pieces
because that is definitely possible

ill tell them of all the stories ive whispered
into the one dimple on her left cheek
and why they should fall in love
with anything  anybody
even to fall in love with themselves
because being in love is beautiful

i want my children to understand that love is alright
as long as love dont hurt nobody
ill tell them i went to prom with her
because of  the serious
but not really
pillow fights on the couch
and the late night facetiming
staring at an ipod screen the size of a deck of cards
but knowing that her face and mind filled my entire room
like light
and damnit if she didn’t look good in a suit

i went because her mind would be just as beautiful
even if she were a boy
but she wasn’t
and thats just fine with me


regret pantoum

by Morgan Butler

when it is 1AM and sweaty and sticky,
saturday will wrap around us like smoke.
tequila and sin will swim around
in my stomach.

saturday will wrap around us like smoke.
we will forget how to breathe.
in my stomach, more liquor
will backstroke and dive.

we will forget how to breathe.
the space between us will evaporate,
and will backstroke and dive into our mouths.
we will call this breathing.

the space between us will evaporate.
his tongue tsunamis its’ way into my mouth,
we will call this breathing.
i will feel like drowning while,

his tongue tsunamis its’ way into my mouth
when it is 1AM and sweaty and sticky.
i will feel like i’m drowning while
tequila and sin swim around.


The Other Poem To Myself

by Tajai Williams

 Dear Mr. Williams?
How is your wife?
Did you marry her,
you know that girl from your first year of high school, the one with the smile that you can easily compare to turning the air on after playing basketball in the peak of the seventh month,
Did you stone her fingers, condemn her into an eternity of you loving she?
Do you remember why you married her in the first place,
Have you ever written her a poem,
Like telling her you adore her,
Do you adore her?
Are you healthy, thriving,
do you have any children?
Are you successful?
Did you become a famous rapper, poet, lawyer?
What age did you stop smoking?
What age did you become content with yourself?
What age did you become content with yourself?
What age did you begin to love yourself?
Did you begin to love yourself
…oh I see, well what college did you go to?
Did you have fun or did you fill your plate with too much and waste time?
Does life get easier, who did you lose that you loved more than me?
Are you still lusting, whether that be over money, food, women?
Did you get a chance to read this far?
Did you?
How hard is it to bleed on paper now?
Like is it difficult to puncture your private thoughts and leak on to page?
Okay, that’s reasonable.
Do you remember me,
Do you know who I am,
Are we still friends?
Or did we have a falling out,
Do you still love me?
Because even though I’m not that old and I haven’t seen it all, i know i have a tendency to lose those who are important to me,
Well, I… I was…I was just wondering if we still were cool.
Do I still act like i care about you.
Mr. Williams.
When was the last time we spoke,
Or hung out,
Or just enjoyed each others company?
How old are you now,
Like 58, good age.
Still got a hundred more years.
Are you still writing poems,
Do you remember why you started writing poems in the first place.
Me either.
How about you and your mother?
My mother,
Well our mother,
Who swallowed their pride and threw up an apology first,
Are bygones, bygones or did y’all just quit and say- “bye, be gone”?
Either way I hope everyone’s happy,
I hope you write back.
Thank you for reading.
Sincerely-your past self.

Want more work by these poets?

Lauren May, Morgan Butler, and Tajai Williams, all teens in Split This Rock’s youth programs, have poetry books for sale online for only $10

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