Youth Speaks Hawaii wins international contest for second year straight
By Ashlee Duenas
Advertiser Staff Writer
For the second consecutive year, Youth Speaks Hawaiçi has taken top honors at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.
The Hawaii team competed against teams from around the world July 14-19 in Chicago, Ill., at the 12th annual competition.
The team took top honors last year in Washington, D.C.
“This is special to us because it’s the second year in a row we won the competition,” said Youth Speaks Hawaii coach Elizabeth Soto. “To my understanding, nobody has done that before.”
Poets ages 13 to 24 competed in a grand slam poetry competition to qualify for the 2009 Brave New Voices competition team.
The six poets chosen were Harrison Ines, Jill Fukumoto and four members of 2008’s winning team — Ittai Wong, Alakaçi Kotrys, Jocelyn Ng and Jamaica Osorio.
In May, Osorio was invited to perform as part of a night of poetry and spoken work hosted by President Obama at the White House.
Fifty teams from the U.S., United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago and Guam competed at the Chicago competition.
Soto said a rigorous practice schedule helped Youth Speaks Hawaii become the champions, including hours and hours of writing, re-writing and rehearsing.
“It’s the culmination of the kids’ hard work and their unity as a team,” Soto said.
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