In 2009, Talitha Anyabwele (www.blackgirlspeaks.com) approached Walter 'Wally B.' Jennings (Heard ‘Em Say Teen Poetry) and Blu Bailey (Orlando-The Write Community) regarding Tampa and Orlando teens participating in the Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival.? This lead to a joint collaboration between Orlando and Tampa, called Team ROCK-IT, in which a collection of teen poets were assembled to represent the Central Florida region in the youth poetry slam landscape.? Wally B. and Blu served as Co-Coaches with Talitha (and husband, Javonte) serving as Team Advisors.? Past teams include:?
|Team ROCK-IT 2010||Team ROCK-IT 2011||Team ROCK-IT 2012|
|Shelby Birch||Eric Almanzar||Eric Almanzar|
|Tanquilla Hallback||Bryan Baquiran||Bryan Baquiran|
|Curtis Davis||Shelby Birch||Shelby Birch|
|Ketia Joseph||Curtis Davis||Curtis Davis|
|Duresny Nemorin||Nia Scott||Nia Scott|
|Grace Willis||Xavier Serrano|
Team ROCK-IT 2010, in their initial trip to the Brave New Voices Festival, qualified for the Semi-Final Round (Top 20 Teams advance)...lost twice to eventual 2010 BNV Champion: Team NYC...defeated eventual 2010 BNV Runner-Up: Team Bay Area (SF/Oak)...left BNV ranked as the Top Youth Slam Team in Florida and one of the Top 15 Youth Slam Teams in the World.
Team ROCK-IT 2011 qualified for the Semi-Final Round (Top 20 Teams advance) with two 1st place finishes in the Quarterfinal Round...came in 2nd place to Team NYC and missed Final stage by .2...left BNV ranked as the Top Youth Slam Team in Florida and one of the Top 5 Youth Slam Teams in the World.
Team ROCK-IT 2012, after 3rd and 2nd place finishes in the Quarterfinal Round, barely missed qualifying for the Semi-Final Round for the first time in their 3 year history...left BNV ranked as the 22nd Ranked Youth Slam Team in the World.
The exposure and continued success of Team ROCK-IT led to increased interest and growth in the youth poetry slam scene in Central Florida.? These factors, combined with the opportunity created by several Florida cities no longer sending teams to BNV, prompted Tampa and Orlando to pursue sending individual teams to represent their cities at future Brave New Voices.? This brings us to the creation of the Heard ‘Em Say Poetry Slam Team.