As promised, we have a new website now at WWW.MNSPOKENWORD.COM. We will be shutting down this WordPress site in the next week or so. Please check out the new site for the most up to date information, and to stay connected with MNSWA. Thanks for your support.


Please-see the RE-scheduled first meeting mixer!!!

poets you only need to come to one. april 23rd or april 27

Congrats again on becoming a finalist. YEA!!!

What’s important now is that we connect with you on important information about events, fundraising, Finals….the trip to San Francisco…. and answer questions you have so everyone is on the right page moving forward. We have two meetings scheduled for you to choose between coming to. One is on a weekday and the other is on a weekend. We will be going over schedule, moving forward steps, Expectations etc (super important material). Parents & guardians are invited.  Please rsvp to asap about which you will be at / and we will have your materials folder there. Please take the time to rsvp as well as arrive on time. Look the venues up if you are unfamiliar via mapquest. email any questions to See you soon.

NOTE: DATES HAVE BEEN MOVED BACK to accommodate people’s schedules


Option #1
Sat April 23rd – 11:00-12:30pm
Golden’s Deli  – Dowtown St. Paul
address: 275 East 4th Street Suite 102 , Saint Paul, MN 55101
(just around the corner from the Black Dog Cafe in the historic northwestern building
and kiddy corner to the Farmers Market space
note: lots of construction down there
If you get lost:  651-224-8888

Option #2
Wed. April 27th – 5:00-6:30pm
Minneapolis Central Downtown Library /300 Nicollet Mall
room tba
rsvp via

‘These poets are incredible’ …’If semis are this amazing-FINALS are going to be INSANE’ …’These are some of the best ever Quest poets’….

These are all some of the comments from last night’s incredible night of youth poetry. Over 200 people came out to support the youth and to say the least…..the NEXT generation ‘came with it.’ The judges (Mike Lipset, D’Allen White, Saymoukda Vongsay, Bruce Axelrod, and Farrington) had their hands full.
Finals will be held in May 2011 – the exact date and venue to be announced soon. If ever the energy of this series had dipped – gone are the days. There was shouting, roaring laughter, foot stomping, and cheering all night long. We anticipate a sold out house for finals. MNSWA announced changes in the series this year …and from the looks of it ….things are hotter than ever.
MNSWA was in the HOUSE! along with VM hosts (Brit Brat and Laurine + DJ Mixwell) keeping the night driving. Thanks to all who made it out for this magic evening.

Congratulations to these 20 Finalists: (in no particular order)

Michelle Erdman, Zak Warsame, Kayla Stewart, Hassani Harris,

Herbert Abrams, Talia Tepinsky, Antoine Duke, Kevin Yang

John Larkins-Williams, Donte L-Collins, Emily Nuckols, Johanna Olsen

Madelyn Roseen, Aiden Morzenti, bDarius Gray, Alese Robinson, Jonathan David Allie

Matt Carlyon, Damien Mcbrier, Emily Christiansen
These 20 poets have made a commitment to work together in a training intensive, building circles, fundraising, and performances. Fulfilling this commitment qualifies them to continue forward to qualify for the May 7th finals. Finals will have 2 rounds. In round 1 all poets will read one poem. Round two will advance the top Twelve poets. The 6 highest scoring poets will represent the MN team at the national Brave New Voices conference July 20-23rd.

In the MNSWA tradition of rotating judges each year and building on the previous year’s relationships with strong mentors – we are excited to welcome 2011 coaches Farrington Starnes and Abdi Phenomenal. Their work with MNSWA over the past 2 years and with nurturing development and mentorship in the somali community has been impressive and continuous from MNSWA’s first workshop ignited with Bedlam over 3 years ago working specifically & poetically with the Cedar Riverside Somali community. Sha Cage and E.G. Bailey will assist in the leadership and development component of the program this year.

Next up is the SAY WORD! one day Youth Poetry Fest: May 7
Teams/groups/crews of poets from across the Twin Cities come together in a half day marathon of poetry, music, workshops, and performances. Held on Saturday May 7th from 12:00-5pm at the Minneapolis Central (dwntn) Library. Music provided by the band 2013. Youth groups ages 13-19 can participate. Four original (clean) poems are needed from each team. This is a FREE event / fun for the whole family. Winners walk away with the 2011 title + prizes.

Did we hear someone say …YOUTH POETRY IS on FIRE!

MNSWA-Keeping Poetry, Literacy, and youth literacy ALIVE in MN!

Please Join Voices Merging & the MN Spoken Word Association for the
2011 Quest For The Voice
Youth Poetry Slam Semi-Finals!
*An evening of some of the Hottest Youth Poetry on the Scene*

Monday, March 21st 6:30pm

Announcements begin at 6:00pm
(Poets must arrive by 5:30 • Poets check in cut off by 5:50)
Moos Tower Room 2-620
500 Washington Ave SE, Mpls
(Enter at the intersection of Union St SE & Washington Ave SE & go down)
Students $3/Adults $5
Hosted by Voices Merging’s own Laurine Chang & Brit Brat
(the evening typically runs 3 hours)

The MN Spoken Word Association produces this inspiring series now in its 6th year. Youth poets as semi-finalists will represent the state of MN in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival in San Francisco, CA this July!

*Expect Laughter, Tears, Heavy Applause, and Celebration*
“This program is one of the most beautiful programs for youth across the country. To hear young people tell their stories (some for the first time), is truly life-changing.” M.P.

For more info, email

2011: Partners: Golden’s Deli, Canvas Teen Center, Perpich Performing Arts School, Washburn High, Cahoots Coffee Shop, South High, Oak Park Community Center, 42nd Avenue Station


‘Empowering Youth and Community Through Leadership, Literacy, and Spoken Word’ MN Spoken Word Association

WHAT’s up NEXT: A State-wide One Day Youth Poetry Festival titled SAY WORD! in MAY

Hello all. The Quest slam at Central High School has been moved to nearby Cahoots Coffee Shop.

Cahoots Coffee Shop (in St. Paul)
1562 Selby Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN
When: 4:30pm start. Arrive by 4 to sign up
When: Friday March 18th

Central High School (in St. Paul)
275 Lexington Parkway N. St. Paul, MN
When: 4:30pm. start. Arrive by 4 to sign up
When: Friday March 18th

Quest for the Voice 2011 Season!!!.

Spread the word if you have not already to area youth!
The series culminates in a final slam that qualifies 6 youth (who can make the leadership/training schedule commitment) to travel to San Francisco July 20-23 & represent MN for the Brave New Voices national youth poetry conference.

Quest for the Voice Preliminary Slams
Youth 13-19 can compete. Most preliminaries are one round only. Semi Finals and Finals are 2 rounds so come with two dynamic/original poems, under 3 minutes. Any style/any topic. All prelims will have judges and score-keeping. The top 5-7 poems from each slam (based on sign up percentage) will advance to semi finals. Finals will be held at the U of M in late May. More info:

Edison High School
Northeast Minneapolis
700 22nd Avenue Northeast
Minneapolis, MN 55418-3696
March 9th (wed), 3:10-5:10 : Rm 225

Hosted by The Poetry Club and Whitney Hough

(open to all + area youth) Free

Canvass Teen Center
St. Paul
1610 West Hubbard Ave. St. Paul
March 10th (thurs) -6-8pm

Free • Hosted by Kirstie Kimball


Washburn High School
South Minneapolis
201 West 49th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55419-5588
March 10th (thurs)- 7-9pm (open to all + area youth)
Free • Hosted by Crystal Spring


Perpich Performing Arts
Golden Valley
March Date/ During School


St. Paul Conservatory
Partnering with Golden Deli @ Golden’s
Located on the first floor of the historic Northwestern Building
275 East 4th Street Suite 102
Saint Paul, MN 55101
Downtown St. Paul
March 15 (Tues), 6-7:30pm
(open to all + area youth)


Oak Park Neighborhood Community Center
North Minneapolis
1701 Oak Park Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411-3997
March 17th (thur). 6pm
(open to all + area youth)


South High School
South Minneapolis
March Date/ During School

Bedlam Outloud
Brian Coyle Community Center
Riverside / West Bank 420 15th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454.  Cross Streets: Between 5th St S and Cedar Ave S
March 12th, (sat) 2:30pm
Hosted by Bedlam Outloud’s Farrington & Abdi


Friday March 18th (not a slam/ but a free prep writing circle for semi finals)
42nd Avenue Station (Coffee Shop)
4171 Lyndale Ave North, Mpls, 55412
Corner of 42nd and Lyndale Avenue No in North Minneapolis
FREE • Sha Cage leads a Writing Circle & Prep for Semi Finals or
Anyone interested in working on /refining their poetry

SEMI FINALS (top finalists from each preliminary advance to semi finals)
Monday March 21
University of MN – Moos Tower
515 Delaware Street Southeast
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0357
Hosted by Voices Merging
($3 students/ $5 adults)

Sun. May 29th

Exact Location and time tba

YOUTH AMPLIFIED (young ambassadors for change through art)
MNSWA calls for 15 highly motivated Youth ages 13-18 who are interested in leadership, social activism and poetry. An exciting 11 month program that rewards Twin Cities youth through training, performance opportunities, travel and stipends. Youth can email to request an interview.

QUEST FOR THE VOICE (youth slam series)
Now in its 6th year, Quest is revitalized to re-establish the programs commitment to leadership, mentorship and community building. Partners help organize slams in different MN communities and youth will advance to a final slam held in May 2011. Finalists will represent MN in San Francisco in July at the Brave New Voices conference.  Dates and locations will be posted here.

Saturday, April 30th (location tba) a one day action packed day of Poetry. SAY WORD! is back. Formerly called the Youth Slam League, Say Word! had been reorganized into a Youth Poetry Festival, which offers an opportunity for more youth interested in spoken word to be reached across MN while building a movement around poetry and literacy. This is an exciting state-wide program and opportunity for youth. Any community, school, or neighborhood group of 4 -10 poets can form a team to slam in the festival. Four original poems are needed, and can be solos or group collaborations. Youth participants can be aged 13-19 years old. Groups can coach themselves or solicit a coach from the incredible Spoken Word community in the Twin Cities. Interested groups/teams simply need to email to register their team. Winners walk away with the SAY WORD 2011 champion title + prizes.