Young poets from across America take the spotlight in the exclusive seven-part HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Brave New Voices. Narrated by Queen Latifah, the show follows six promising teams from around the country as they prepare for a chance to compete at the 2008 Brave New Voices National Youth Poetry Slam Championship in Washington, D.C.
Held in a different city each year, the Brave New Voices championship presents the voices of 21st-century America in all its demographic diversity. Created by Youth Speaks in 1998, the Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Slam Festival has quickly become the largest youth poetry festival in the world, bringing together 500 youth and 100 nonprofit organizers from up to 50 different US cities annually.
In the months and weeks leading up to the July 2008 finals, HBO’s cameras captured the six teams and their coaches as they prepared for the semi-finals and finals in Washington, D.C. The half-hour series profiles hopeful poets and their coaches, revealing their personal struggles and triumphs like 19 -year old Brooklynite B. Yung, who sees poetry as a way out of the streets, Jasmine, the 18-year-old leader of the Ft. Lauderdale team who is held back by sickle-cell disease, Ericka, a 16-year-old San Francisco resident seeking refuge from her tough upbringing through overeating and poetry, Britney, an 18-year-old New Yorker with cerebral palsy, Ittai, 18, a one-time prodigy who has become a leader of a strong Hawaiian team; Aimee, Carolyn and Fiona, all 17, representing an Ann Arbor team that is hindered, ironically, by their white upper-middle-class backgrounds and April, a Santa Fe native and 18-year-old member of the Navaho tribe who seeks to preserve her native American culture in her life and poetry.
Brave New Voices premieres Sunday, April 5th at 11pm ET/PT on HBO.