Ark Globe selects first ever team of young people from London to compete in international Brave New Voices poetry slam in Washington DC

Sixteen student poets battled it out at Ark Globe Academy’s first ever poetry slam event. Members of the highly successful student poetry collective ‘Globe Poets’ took to the stage to air their ideas about what ‘Power’ means to young people in London today.

With the forthcoming London Mayoral election, as well as the Presidential race in the USA, students wrote poems on a wide range of issues on the theme of ‘Power’ that affect them – from anxiety and mental health issues, to the relationship between young people and the police in London.

The poets had worked for several months writing their own pieces, as well as committing them to memory for their outstanding performances – some of which moved the audience to tears. Needless to say, there were both tears and laughter on the night as a result of the fantastic hosting by professional poet Joshua Idehen, who encouraged the student audience to root for every single poet that came onto the stage.

The judging panel included poet Caleb Femi, Roundhouse Poetry Slam winner and Ark Globe Academy student alumni, and Ark Schools CEO, Lucy Heller, in addition to Globe Poets founder Holly Rigby, an English teacher at the school. The judges struggled so hard to whittle the performers down to six, that in a moment of X Factor drama, they produced a wild card and added a seventh member to the team announced on the night.

The final team that was selected will be travelling to Brave New Voices in Washington DC this July to compete against young people from across America is made up of; Zareen Roy-Macauley, Aneesha Hussain, Tasnima Ahmed, Halil Es, Joshua Adeyemi, Naomi Oloukun and wild card winner Sharon Machisa.

Winner Joshua Adeyemi, who in one of the most moving parts of the evening saw his mother run on stage to hug him after the winners were announced, said after hearing the news: “I’m overwhelmed. It feels surreal, I literally dreamed about this. I will be the first person in my family to ever travel to America. I feel a responsibility now to encourage other young men like me to use poetry as a positive and productive way to express our emotions and views about the world.”

Lucy Heller said on the night, “Globe Poets are an extraordinary group of young people - the judge's only frustration was that we had to choose - we wish all 16 could have gone to Washington!’

The students performing at the event are all part of the Globe Poets, Ark Globe’s Spoken word collective which was set up by three of the night’s winners three years ago. The students taking part in the slam ranged from 13 to 17.

The Brave New Voices Competition is the biggest poetry slam in America that sees hundreds of teenage poetry slam champions come together to not only compete against each other but attend workshops led by renowned poets and activists, participate in youth development programmes and discuss social justice. The event has previously been televised by the channel HBO.