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The History of Tampa

The History of Tampa’s Teen Poetry Slam Scene

In 2009, TalithaAnyabwele (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 2010: Ketia Joseph, Grace Willis, Curtis Davis, Shelby Birch,
Tanquilla Hallback, Duresny Nemorin, Blu Bailey (Coach)
Team  ROCK-IT 2011(Picture Unavailable)
Team ROCK-IT 2011: Eric Almanzar, Bryan Baquiran, Shelby Birch, Curtis Davis, Nia Scott, Xavier Serrano
Team  ROCK-IT 2012
Team ROCK-IT 2012: Shelby Birch, Nia Scott, Eric Almanzar, Bryan Baquiran, Shaheed Nu’Man (Entourage), Jamie Dawson (Entourage), Curtis Davis


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.