About the Team
Fort Lauderdale is a humid beachfront city in South Florida with palm tree laden streets framed by sandy beaches and shallow clear blue water. But only minutes away from the shore there are neighborhoods with dirt and grass sidewalks and sparsely-stocked mom and pop convenience stores.
Ray Dominguez, the program director of Write Side Poets and coach of the Fort Lauderdale Team, mentors poets from these hard-working neighborhoods. He brings the mosaic of the Deep South, the West Indies, Little Havana and Little Haiti together with writers that deliver poetry in a mix of languages and dialects that are both powerful and clear. Unlike most teams, Fort Lauderdale does not have a center to conduct workshops. Writing sessions and performance training all take place in coach Dominguez's living room. Inspired by Ray's passion for poetry, the team wants nothing more than to spit on the finals stage at the Brave New Voices festival in Washington, DC. Confronted by financial and personal challenges, these teens work to transform themselves from novice writers into hard-hitting slam poets.
About the Coach
With a timer in hand, Ray Dominguez puts the members of Write Side Poets through what he calls "Poetry Boot Camp." As the coach of a team diverse in background and personality, there is one challenge that he confronts across the board—stimulating the imaginations of members of a distracted generation. He says, "A lot of kids today are so consumed with text messages, video games, who got the latest cell phone, who got the good gear, who dresses nice and stuff. And they forgot their imagination. I want kids to be kids."