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Playlist: Youth Poetry

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/">Ian Muttoo</a>
Image by: Ian Muttoo 
Curated Playlist

Words from young people. Great for Poetry Month and more!

Below are picks chosen by PRX editorial staff. You can see all youth poetry radio on PRX by using our search.


Oakland Scenes: Snapshots of a Community

From Youth Radio | 05:45

Youth Radio chronicles life in Oakland, California, where an alarming number of youth homicides has weighed heavily on the community.

Default-piece-image-1 Youth Radio chronicles life in Oakland, California, where an alarming number of youth homicides has weighed heavily on the community. The story uses as its centerpiece a poem by Ise Lyfe -- a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The killings have been a major topic of conversation in Oakland among youth, from young poets, to teens gathered on the sidewalk, to kids taking the bus home from school. A high percentage of the victims are youth, sometimes as many as three in a single week. Youth Radio documents the words of young residents in street corner conversations in East Oakland, the neighborhood where much of the violence has taken place. The voices are Youth Radio's Gerald Ward II, Bianca Yarborough, her mom Bridget Taylor, and poet Ise Lyfe.


From Radio Rookies | 06:48

Bronx teen Judith Rudge turns to poetry to express her experience as an outsider.

Radio Rookies

Judithmural_small Since she moved to the Bronx from Suriname at age 12, Judith hasn't felt she fits in with any group. Dutch is her first language. She wants to be an opera singer. She's black. In Junior High, her peers wondered why she couldn't sing like 'Monica.' In High School, she remembers a girl from an African-American club telling her, "Dutch is not a Black language." She did not take up arms, as some outsiders have -- instead she took up poetry.

Creation Poem

From Littleglobe | 08:05

Award winning and nationally acclaimed Native American students from the Santa Fe Indian School's Spoken Word Club perform "Creation Poem".

Creation Poem

Default-piece-image-1 Youth producer, Dolna Smithback, along with her co-host, Gabe Rima, interviewed six members of the award winning and nationally acclaimed Santa Fe Indian School's Spoken Word Club. Dolna and Gabe heard pieces that the Spoken Word Club performed at different jams and competitions. This is a group piece called: "Creation Poem" by poets: April Chavez, Nolan Eskeets, Jimmy Coriz, and Santana Shorty; all who are members of the Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word Club, directed by Tim McLaughlin. The students' inspiration for the poem comes from Native American ancestors, traditions, family members, dreams, and spirit guides.

Trading One Tongue for the Other

From outLoud Radio at Youth Radio | 03:02

A young Filipino-American's poem on growing up in many languages.

Malayacopy_small Young Filipino-American poet Malaya Timawa Dima'api lives in Oakland, CA. This poem is about his ever-shifting relationship to language, growing up.

A Prohibition

From Terin Mayer | 04:27

Three students reflect on what it means to be "Black" at Carleton College

A Prohibition
Terin Mayer

Terinandkayeen_small Originally curated for a temporary museum installation at Carleton College, "A Prohibition" is a poetic contemplation of campus race relations. What do you mean when you say the word "black"? Why can't you say the word "nigger"? Three African American students navigate the language of identity.

Bruised Knights by Team WordPlay

From WBEZ | Part of the Louder Than a Bomb 2008 series | 02:33

This is the group piece (4 poets) performed in-studio by WordPlay, which was a team finalist in the 2008 Louder Than a Bomb Competition. They describe the piece as being about suicide; burying a friend. WordPlay is an organizational team representing Young Chicago Authors' weekly open mic and workshop series, WordPlay. Poets include: Tim "Toaster" Henderson (18), Ona Wang (17), Q Cole (19), and Melanie Decelles (18).

Ltab08teamwordplay_small Recorded as part of the 2008 collection of Louder Than a Bomb Teen Poetry Festival and Competition studio recordings (LTAB2008), presented just in time for National Poetry Month. For the fourth year, the station invited competition finalists in-studio from this nationally-renowned teen poetry slam, hosted by Young Chicago Authors. Each piece included in the series is a titled performance piece. Without introduction, a template for host-introduction is offered here (under "for stations"). Over the past few years, over twenty pieces from previous collections have broadcast on stations across the country, including Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ 91.5 FM). LTAB2008 pieces work well aired independently (perfect for filling a few minutes of time after a thematically-related piece or interview) or as a series in locally produced programming that is looking to add a youth perspective. This is debut series. The Young Chicago Authors' Louder Than a Bomb teen poetry slam is now in it's eighth year, bringing poets ages 13-19 years-old together in a safe space that emphasizes community building, education, and youth empowerment. By carrying on the rich tradition of oral storytelling and the spoken word, the 2008 Louder Than a Bomb Teen Poetry Festival and Competition engaged over 400 young writers representing 46 schools and community organizations. The four teams that were invited to the final round, each presenting one group piece and four individual pieces, along with all six indy poets who completed in the final round are presented here. Louder Than a Bomb is produced by Breeze Richardson, presented by Chicago Public Radio, and distributed directly to public radio stations through PRX.

Warfare by Corbin Bugni

From Youth Speaks Seattle | 03:16

Spoken word piece on war and conflict both personal and global.

Youthspeakssm_small Captivating and critical spoken word piece by Seattle teen on war and conflict both personal and global. Performed at Seattle Youth Poetry Slam Series 2008. Young author Corbin Bugni won a place on Seattle Youth Slam Team with this poem.

"Youth, Day, Old Age, & Night" by Walt Whitman, recited by 6-yr.-old Gareth

From Aaron Sanders | :48

Six-year-old Gareth has a voice made for poetry. He recites Walt Whitman's "Youth, Day, Old Age & Night."

Lumberyardwelcomesquare_small Six-year-old Gareth has a voice made for poetry. He recites regularly for a radio magazine called "The Lumberyard." Listening to these classic poems recited by a child is like hearing them for the first time. In this series, Gareth recites two poems by William Blake, "The Little Boy Lost" and "The Chimney Sweeper"; Walt Whitman's, "Youth, Day, Old Age and Night"; and an excerpt from Walden by Henry David Thoreau. These are engaging, enchanting poetic moments, perfect for National Poetry Month.

"If These Walls Could Talk: Inside Youth Speak Out" SEASON ONE

From Susan Stone | 23:41

"IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK: Inside Youth Speak Out" is a poetry series drawn from testimonial writings by the youngest members of America's prison system.

Juv1_small While in Juvenile Hall, detained and incarcerated youth are invited to participate in weekly writing and conversation workshops which encourage them to dig deep, and seek meaningful insights through thought-provoking topics.

These young men, women, girls and boys reveal childhoods and teen years so often defeated by aspects of the lives they have lived so far. They address things, people, or events that are critical to acknowledge during rehabilitation before returning to their homes, schools, and communities.

Living out loud through rap, rhyme, and essay, these youth see the web as a portal --a way to let loose their stories in hopes others might put an ear to the wall and hear who they really are. Here, 20 writers read their own works, sometimes lending a voice to one another's.

Produced by Susan Stone with the boys and girls of San Francisco's Juvenile Justice Center, and the support of Malcolm Marshall, Youth Speaks, and the inspiration of David Inocencio and The Beat Within.


From Littleglobe | 04:59

Hilary Uselu performs her piece Mother/Father, slamming about environmental situations from the point of view of Mother Earth.



Hilary Uselu, junior at the Santa Fe Indian School and captain of the Spoken Word Club performed her piece, "Mother/Father" in New York and Washington at national poetry slams. Hilary's piece depicts the impact of human destruction and injustices inflicted upon Mother Earth. 

Louder Than a Bomb 2010 (Series)

Produced by WBEZ

Just in time for National Poetry Month, Chicago Public Radio is thrilled to distribute a series of studio recordings featuring the finalists of the 2010 Louder Than a Bomb Teen Poetry Festival and Competition. For the sixth year, Chicago Public Radio invited competition finalists from this nationally-renowned teen poetry slam, hosted by Young Chicago Authors, to record their performance pieces in our studios. We present to you 24 pieces (all under 3 minutes.) Enjoy!

Most recent piece in this series:

Annalyse by Hanna Telander

From WBEZ | Part of the Louder Than a Bomb 2010 series | 02:59

Ltab2010_indy_telander-tp_small A freshman at St. Francis High School, and member of the team "Brave as a Noun," Hanna competed in the finals of the 2010 Louder Than a Bomb Teen Poetry Slam as an Indy poet. Her engaging, earnest poem is like a letter to a friend with an eating disorder.

Short Lists (Series)

Produced by David Green

A set of collaborative “Short List” poems which shed light on the thoughts, secrets, senses of humor and lives of eight and nine-year-olds. Can you figure out what each short list poem is about before you are told at the end?

Most recent piece in this series:

Short List #11

From David Green | Part of the Short Lists series | :41


As part of a two week, all-school (K-12) Poetry Festival at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka, IL, Third Grade Audio produced our first “Short Lists” for one of the poetry assemblies. We continue to write and record new short lists each year.

We first learned about Short Lists from producer Jay Allison during his keynote speech at the 2007 Third Coast International Audio Festival Conference.

What is a Short List? “It's a list you create from your experience or research or daily life. You read it out loud for about 60 seconds and then tell us at the end what the list WAS." (transom.org)

Here at Third Grade Audio, we think of them as a combination of a list poem and a riddle. We wrote Short Lists of all kinds and then took some of our favorite topics written by individual third graders and created group Short Lists – writing, recording and producing them jointly. We played them for an audience of roughly five-hundred people during the Poetry Festival.

Each Spring, a new set of third graders adds to our Short List series. 


Third Grade Audio
"See" the world through third grade ears


Poet Terry Taplin

From Hopi High Radio | 03:39


Default-piece-image-2 Talking with poet Terry Taplin was very interesting because I myself is into poetry. Taplin has been writing for 7 years, he does it just for fun and is based mainly on personal narrative. Taplin is from Berkeley CA, and is part of the National Youth Radio.

Chicagoans Consider Their Road Not Taken

From Curie Youth Radio | 01:53

Robert Frost's famous poem helps us reflect on our own paths.

Aic_small Chicagoans recite Frost's  "The Road Not Taken" and talk about their choices, regrets, and victories.