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20th annual teen poetry slam held at Apollo Theater

HARLEM, Manhattan — "These young poets represent the best of the best!"

It’s the Urban Word NYC 20th Annual Teen Poetry Slam at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem and there is just so much talent up on the stage.

“My sexuality is an angle sliced in half that people insist is disproportionate,” Nathanial Swanson, a young poet, said from the stage.

They are all under the age of 21 and they slammed about love and sex, sexual orientation and relationships, school shootings and gun violence.

One young woman talked about the death of her mother. “I am 18 and I can see my mother’s spine,” she said.

Out of the 15 poets in the competition, six will have the chance to take their poetry to the next level, the National Conference In Houston.

“These young poets represent the best of the best,” Michael Cirelli, the executive director of Urban Word,” told PIX11, “Young poets are like the real time news of their lives.”

Urban word was founded in 1999 presenting free literacy Arts education including hip-hop creative writing and college prep.

“A big part is teaching them that their voices will be heard,” Chanelle Gabriel, program director of Urban Word told PIX11.

Urban word’s poetry teen slam is high stakes event for these contestants.

It’s a chance to dazzle the world with rhythm and words and to tell what’s in their hearts, mind and soul.

“In my three minute piece, I talked about being a bisexual male,” Swanson, a 16-year-old from East New York, told PIX11. “I feel very excited. I didn’t win last year so I feel really excited this year,” he added.