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Join us for the biggest youth poetry festival of its kind NOW

This year's Brave New Voices theme — Femme is Now– is a gentle yet urgent reminder of the power of femininity. It is a call to action, a call to organize a call to dream, and a call to uplift each and every femme in each and every corner of this work.

This year we celebrate femmes while simultaneously honoring the life and legacy of former Brave New Voices Festival Co-Director and master brave space keeper, the legendary Cydney M. Edwards, whose last social media post uplifted an inspiring quote from Ntzake Shange, “Where there is a woman, there is magic.”

Cydney M. Edwards

Cydney was a tremendous artist, Associate Director at the University of Madison, Wisconsin’s Office of Multicultural Arts Initiative, Program Director of The Miami-Dade Urban Debate League, Education Associate with Young Chicago Authors, youth poet of Chicago’s Kuumba Lynx programs, and immeasurable source of light who embodied everything we love about this work.

As an organization, there will never be enough words, poems or lifetimes to fully convey who Cydney was to our movement or what she meant to generations of Brave New Voices youth. She was the best of us — a light in moments when the candle of the world felt close to burning out. She loved Chicago so much that she made sure to weave her Chi-town roots with art and youth voice organizations wherever she went: from Maui to Florida, Madison to the Bay, and everywhere in between.


4 Day of Poetry

Join us for workshops, town halls, showcases, parties, & poetry slams. Brave New Voices is free but spots are LIMITED and registration is required.

Day 1  Wednesday • July 17

7:30PM • Opening Ceremonies
Join us in welcoming and celebrating the best youth poets from around the country as we kick off the first day of the 2024 Brave New Voices Festival with an inspiring and brilliant night featuring artists sharing live poetry, music, and more. 
9:00PM • Queeriosity
Part poetry show, part ball — Queeriosity is a space for LGBTQIA+ youth and their allies to come together and celebrate their voices and art on their own terms. Witness the magic of expression. All events are free to attend but space is LIMITED and a ticket is REQUIRED to secure your spot.

Day 2 Thursday • July 18

9:00AM-11:00AM • Opening Plenary
The Opening Plenary is a space where we celebrate being in community, being bold, and being brave enough to speak your truth on a world stage such as this one with two facilitated conversations featuring BNV Alumni working at the intersection of arts, politics, and movement building across the country.
11:30AM-1:00PM • Youth Town Halls 
The Brave New Voices Town Halls will embrace and display how art is activism and how poetry allows us to share our stories and create a container to discuss the world’s most urgent issues.
2:45PM-4:45PM • Workshops
The theme of the Brave New Voices Power Lab Workshops is:  Femme & Phenomenal — Designing an Inclusive Femme-Led Future. Step into a world that celebrates the unstoppable force of femme experiences and voices alongside a choir of our collective communities.
7:30PM • Femme & Fierce Showcase
The theme of Brave New Voices is Femme is Now so it’s only right that the Femme and Fierce Primetime Showcase celebrates the many ways in which the femme energy shows up in art.

Some stories are so powerful, we forget they are stories at all. They become the air, the water, the culture mediating what is and what we imagine to be possible. This is where the poet gets to work. Join us for an intergenerational showcase celebrating artists at the forefront of youth narrative power, featuring artists and alums from the Brave New Voices network, demonstrating how the artist doesn't just flip the script, they bend the light.

9:00 PM • MC Olympics
MC Olympics at Brave New Voices is both a concert and competition — an Olympic-style tournament celebrating the best youth emcees across our communities. Through multiple rounds of freestyles, hot 16s, and fully written songs, emcees will demonstrate their skills, from pen game to stage presence to originality. 

Day 3 Friday • July 19

10:30AM - 12:30AM • Semifinals Round 1

Studio Theatre - 1501 14th Street Northwest Studio Theatre Washington, DC 20005

The top 4 competing teams will advance to the Brave New Voices Finals where they will compete for the title of 2024 Brave New Voices Slam Champion.

2:00PM - 4:00PM • Semifinals Round 2

Studio Theatre - 1501 14th Street Northwest Studio Theatre Washington, DC 20005

The top 4 competing teams will advance to the Brave New Voices Finals where they will compete for the title of 2024 Brave New Voices Slam Champion. Close out day three of the Brave New Voices Festival by cheering on 20 of the best youth poetry teams from around the globe in our annual slam poetry competition. The top finalists will advance to the Brave New Voices Finals where they will compete for the title of 2023 Slam Champion. In 1996, Youth Speaks started a movement that has since bloomed some of the most important young artists of our time. Many of your favorite rappers and Tony Award-winning actors, screenwriters, activists, organizers, and of course, poets, got their start here at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam.

8:00PM • An evening w/ the Legends Youtube Broadcast

Day 4 Saturday • July 20

5:00PM • Brave New Voices Finals
The Brave New Voices Poetry Slam is thee LARGEST youth poetry slam and the only one of its kind in the nation. Youth Poets from around the country have been competing all year for this moment — a chance to take home the crown and the coveted title of Brave New Voices Poetry Slam Champion. 

Festival Directors

Future Corps Directors