Team New York City

Team New York City

About the Team

New York City feeds a powerhouse team of street-smart poets. Intense workshops push these writers to their physical and emotional limits. Writing sessions are held at the Urban Word NYC offices and spill over to public parks and local coffee shops. Mentor and coach Queen God-Is leads these rigorous sessions, some lasting over five hours. What's achieved? Trust and truth.

Founded on the belief that teenagers can and must speak for themselves, Urban Word NYC provides free, safe and uncensored writing workshops to teens year round. Working directly with 15,000 teens per year in New York City alone, Urban Word offers literary arts education and youth development programs in the areas of writing, journalism, college prep, literature and hip hop.


About the Coach

Queen God Is, the name given to Team New York's coach during her family's traditional renaming ceremony, explains her name's meaning as, "'I'm the queen of myself, I'm the presence of the most high.' As a surname and a foundation it means, 'No matter who, what, when, where, why or how much, God still is.'" Queen has a hopeful outlook she imparts to her poets. "However grim the world is, or [however much] the 10:00 news makes you feel that the world is a sad place," she says, "the power of the word keeps showing itself, that there is something to be hopeful about."

The Contenders

Miles Hodges, 17
Kayan James, 19
B. Yung, 19
Jasmine Mans, 17
Anthony McPherson, 19
Britney Wilson, 18
Alexis Marie Wint, 15

B. Yung

Representing New York's largest borough, B. Yung's poetry name is short for "Brooklyn's young 'un." In the fifth grade, he was homeless and living in shelters with his Mom. He had his first everything in Brooklyn—first pizza, first basketball game, first fight, first loss and first love. B. Yung describes his time in New York City's Martin Luther King High School like being in a prison, complete with metal detectors, uniforms and a ban on cell phones.

B. started as an aspiring rap artist—always writing and doing raps in the studio. He knew Def Poet Sciryl Cooper had won a poetry slam to make Urban Word's 2005 Brave New Voices Team, so he went to an open mic. He says, "I saw kids 14 and 15 years old ripping it, talking about s*** that I was scared to talk about. So I went up there and spit raps. They loved it, and I was like yo, this is it!"

On the journey to the Brave New Voices festival, B. Yung confronts the challenge of going from solo artist to team player.

Britney Wilson

Strong-willed, defiant and differently-abled with cerebral palsy, Britney Wilson is a leader for a new generation. Britney doesn't think she's had to work harder than other people; it's just that her challenges are different. She is outspoken in her refusal to be treated as a second-class citizen.

So how did this private school Brooklynite get into slam poetry? Watching a Knicks game one day in her room, there was an advertisement to try out for the Knicks Poetry Slam. She saw the ad and thought, "Oh, yeah. You know I got some poems." Britney has had many public speaking experiences, including debates, speeches and presentations. Her future is clear: "I want to be a politician," she says.

This leader-of-tomorrow is taking the first steps towards living out her dreams. First stop, the Brave New Voices National Youth Poetry Slam in Washington, DC. Next, Howard University—black America's premiere institute for higher learning. Britney plans to take on government-related internships and local work with the NAACP as soon as she can. Then, perhaps she'll finally take on the White House.

Watch Brave New Voices

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