For the last nine years, the London Teenage Poetry SLAM project has provided an annual exchange programme for deserving young poets. This year is the tenth year of this powerful collaborative experience.
The poets were selected from the applications from a highly competitive pool of Oak Park and River Forest alumnus. All of the poets participated in the Spoken Word club, led by Peter Kahn, during their tenure at OPRFHS. They also were members of the elite Slam Team, which competes in the world’s largest youth poetry slam, Louder than a Bomb. Meet them here:
Novana Venerable is a senior at Smith College with a degree in Psychology and in Spanish Language and Literature. She was able to compete in the national poetry competition, Brave New Voices, her sophomore year in high school and has since been featured in the documentary Louder Than A Bomb. As a subject of the film, Novana has traveled to a wide variety of cities, including Toronto and Palm Springs, to teach writing workshops to high school children in hopes of starting new poetry clubs and slam competitions. Novana has inspired many youth to write and perform poetry and is hoping to be able to coach a Spoken Word Club of her own after college.
Tabitha Watson is a senior at Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. She was a Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Competition finalist and has recently been published in the Boston Globe.
Asia Calcagno is attending Connecticut College on a full-tuition leadership scholarship from the Posse Foundation. She is currently a sophomore majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and is receiving her certification in secondary education. Asia was a dedicated member of her high school’s spoken word club for three years and was extremely excited to continue her performing and writing in college. She is currently the Vice President of a thriving and popular spoken word/poetry club on her college campus where she runs writing and performance workshops weekly. Asia has competed in Brave New Voices poetry festival as a member of the Illinois All Star team. Along with a close friend on campus, Asia has recently started an after school spoken word/poetry club at the Science and Technology Magnet School in New London, CT to provide a writing community for the high school students.
Kyndall Jones, currently a senior at Oak Park River Forest High School has performed in seven showcases appearing before crowds in excess of 350 people. She has been a captain of her performance group for six showcases. She has performed for her entire school of nearly 3,200 during the annual Martin Luther King assembly. This year she is a part Oak Park’s Louder Than A Bomb Slam Team (The largest youth poetry slam in the country). Kyndall has helped lead poetry workshops at The University of Illinois-Chicago in 2011 and 2012. She also helped lead a workshop at Urban Prep High School in Chicago. Kyndall Jones has participated in writing workshops lead by Terrance Hayes (National Book Awards Winner), Roger Bonair-Agard (National Poetry Slam Champion) and Marty McConnell (Def Poetry Jam).
Jessica Stovall is an English and Reading teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School. She has hosted London Teenage Poetry slam poets and their poet coaches for the last five years, and has attended almost every OPRF Spoken Word showcase and Louder than a Bomb competition since she moved to Chicago in 2007. She has also been a judge for the National Spoken Word competition, Brave New Voices. Although an amateur poet herself, she is inspired by the deep impact the spoken word has had on herself and her beloveds. After finishing her graduate thesis at Northwestern University early this summer, she feels that this opportunity will be a hug to her soul.