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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 Days 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 • National 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.
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 • Legends of Poetry Concert
Friday, July 19th

Watch the Legends of Poetry Concert on July 19th at 8pm EST via LIVE STREAM.

Hosted by Youth Speaks, Inc. and Brave New Voices, come experience an exclusive evening of performance and conversation with legendary artists who brought spoken word poetry to the masses. From Hip Hop theater to Def Poetry to the White House, join us as these architects, trailblazers, trouble-makers of the poetic tradition read their most popular poems and retell the histories of how their words catalyzed a global movement known as Brave New Voices.

Featuring: Mayda del Valle, Beau Sia, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Yellow Rage, Sonya Renee Taylor, aja monet, Mahogany Brown, Jasmine Mans and a special surprise guest.

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

Future Corps

Safety & Mental Health Team

The emotional, and physical safety of our youth and all festival participants is paramount to us, and we are working hard to ensure this virtual festival is as fun as it is safe and accessible.

It is our top priority to create a Brave New Voices experience where our community can participate at their fullest potential. Throughout the Festival, the Brave New Voices Safety Team and Mental Health Coordinators will be on call (text and/or call) to offer one-on-one support for poets, coaches, and mentors.


As we continue to explore new opportunities to gather and build community within an ever-changing world, here is an update on the ways we will continue to gather and remain accountable to your COVID-19 safety at Brave New Voices. Failure to follow the guidance below will result in immediate disqualification from the festival. 

  1. 1 WEEK BEFORE: Limit exposure
  2. DAY 1: Take a test before getting on the plane
  3. DAY 2 AND ONWARD: Test before breakfast

Brave New Voices Safety Guide

Limit Exposure
The week before the festival, all teams are strongly recommended to limit their exposure to COVID-19 by avoiding crowded places and masking around others.
Daily Testing
All BNV Team members and staff are required to test before their flight (if relevant) to BNV as well as show proof of a negative rapid test the day of their arrival to the festival.  All BNV Team members and staff are also required to test each subsequent day of the festival before breakfast. Testing will be led and monitored by team coaches, using rapid tests provided by the BNV Festival upon arrival. Coaches must report positive tests using this Google form.
Masking Policy

- Public Events (Finals, workshops, etc.): Masking is encouraged

- Youth-Only Events: Masking is optional

- On-Stage Performers: Masking is optional

- Generally: Masks are optional and encouraged for Festival activities but not mandatory.

- Performers who have completed a rapid test each day are not required to wear masks on stage.

- If you test positive, you must remain masked during the entirety of the festival.

Positive Cases
In the event of a positive test, BNV team members are required to remain isolated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Isolation Plan

Youth Speaks’s Isolation Plan is as follows

Hotel Isolation with check-ins:
  • Team members, coaches, and entourage members that test positive will need to isolate. Youth Speaks has set aside 3 rooms in the event COVID-19 isolation is needed.
  • Virtual attendance options are available, when broadcasting is planned please refer to BNV Insiders Guide for more information
  • If a youth tests positive, at least one team chaperone will be required to monitor and support team members that test positive at BNV housing and plan for bringing the team member food.
Per CDC Guidelines, positive cases will need to quarantine. The quarantine period can end once:
  • at least 48 hours after both their symptoms have subsided and no longer have a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication). 
  • The person will need to remain masked for the duration of the festival and is not allowed to perform on stage.
Contact Tracing
Youth Speaks collects the contact information of all BNV Teams and staff as well as requires all non-team participants to register for the festival via the Brave New Voices website ( This will allow us to contact a significant portion of the festival if needed in the event of a COVID exposure.
Non-BNV Team audience members are encouraged to let us know as soon as possible if they receive a positive COVID-19 test within 3 days of a Youth Speaks activity by emailing us at
In the event of a confirmed exposure to someone that tests positive for COVID-19, Youth Speaks will inform all relevant parties within 24 hours of notification to help prevent possible spread.
Will Brave New Voices require proof of vaccine?
Will there be masks available on-site?
A limited number of masks will be available at Brave New Voices. We still strongly encourage you to bring your own.
Will COVID testing be available on-site?
Daily COVID testing will only be available for BNV Team Members. Rapid tests will be provided upon arrival at the festival.
Possible COVID-19 Exposure After the Festival?

Please contact Youth Speaks’ COVID Liaison Team at to let us know if you have received a positive COVID test within 3 days of attending the Brave New Voices Festival.

If you do not see your question answered here or if you have a question more specific to your team regarding registration, please email our Brave New Voice Committee at Please be aware that this page will be updated frequently.

Emergency Contacts: Michelle "Mush" Lee ( and Stephaine Cajina ( 

What We Are Looking For

Volunteer roles will include support such as:
  • Setup
  • Checking attendees through Eventbrite
  • Setting up food & snacks
  • Breaking down tables and equipment

Volunteer shifts are available at various times throughout the Festival: July 17 - 20, 2024

GENERAL VOLUNTEERS (non-mental health): To view specific shifts and sign up to volunteer please complete this form

MENTAL HEALTH VOLUNTEERS: To view specific shifts and sign up to volunteer please complete this form

For questions and more information contact: