Press Release - Detail
For immediate release
Friday, August 2, 2013
CONTACT: Angela Fisher Hall  
Associate Director                                              
Birmingham Public Library                                                               
Phone: (205) 226-3614                                                                        
Railroad Park Event is Community Sendoff For Teen Poets
Collaboration Between Real Life Poets and Birmingham Public Library Brings a Dream to Fruition
Birmingham, Alabama—Poets and musicians will use the backdrop of Railroad Park’s outdoor pavilion to create the perfect celebratory setting  to send a group of talented teens off to a Chicago competition.  “Flow Tactics on the Tracks,” sponsored by Real Life Poets and Railroad Park, is slated to run from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 4. The program is a sendoff celebration for a team of six Birmingham-area teens that will compete in the Brave New Voices international poetry competition scheduled for August 7-11 in Chicago.  Sunday’s event includes many performers familiar to Birmingham audiences such as spoken word artist Sharrif Simmons, drummer John Scalici, and singer-songwriter Gabriel Tajeu.  The event is free and open to the public. Donations in support of the trip and future training of teen poets will be accepted by Real Life Poets.
This project began when Birmingham Public Library Arts Literature and Sports Department Head Haruyo Miyagawa and John Paul Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Real Life Poets, discussed ways to take an annual poetry competition titled WORD UP! to another level and decided to set their sights on Brave New Voices, a competition for student poets which has been in existence since 1998.  Until this year, the competition has never had a team from Alabama.
Several of the teens who are heading to Chicago have already proven their mettle by winning in the annual WORD UP! poetry competition for Jefferson County (AL) high school students which is sponsored by the Public Libraries In Jefferson County and Real Life Poets. The past WORD UP! winners making the team are Eboni Wallace, Tarrant High School (she has won first place in WORD UP! the past two years); Miaya Webster, Alabama School of Fine Arts (she placed third in this year’s WORD UP! competition); and Justin Wright, International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Shades Valley High School (he placed third in last year’s competition). Other members of the team are Chase Essary, International Baccalaureate; Jacob Bryant, Huffman High School; and Jordan Montgomery, Minor High School.  
The team members have been working hard to get ready for Chicago—they have been honing their performance skills three hours a day, four days a week for the past three months. John Paul Taylor stated, “The youth will lead the way. I have watched our group of teen poets transform into young emerging leaders, which is the larger goal in doing this. Birmingham will be well represented by the powerful message of Team #KnowDisclaimer. The passion, the power, the love of our city and state will shine through in each poem delivered by the team. When we started the process, we were happy to be selected . . . now, headed into the competition, I feel confident in saying Birmingham will do extremely well. We are proud to represent you, Birmingham."
Birmingham Public Library
The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment.  This system—with nineteen locations and serving the community for 126 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast.  For additional information, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Railroad Park
Railroad Park is a 19-acre green space in downtown Birmingham that celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage of our great city. Situated along 1st Avenue South, between 14th and 18th Streets, the park is a joint effort between the City of Birmingham and the Railroad Park Foundation. Hailed as "Birmingham's Living Room," Railroad Park provides a historically rich venue for local recreation, family activities, concerts, and cultural events, while connecting Birmingham's downtown area with Southside and UAB's campus.
Real Life Poets
The Real Life Poets, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit community service and mentoring organization focusing on mentoring young adults, encouraging good communication, and oratorical skills using spoken word poetry and the arts. They organize community programs, such as Operation Mustard Seed (OMS) Coats for the Cold, and OMS Annual Community Health Fair, and various workshops in order to fulfill their mission. They have facilitated workshops for The Birmingham C.A.N. Summer program, several within the Better Basics Enrichment Program, Public Libraries In Jefferson County’s WORD UP! student poetry slam workshops, and The Birmingham Mayor’s Office and Division of Youth Services Kiddie Club. Because of the student’s interest and desire to continue writing and performing outside of the workshops, the group created a teen open mic, Flow Tactics, hosted by teen artists the third Saturday of every month and held at the YMCA Youth Center.

MEDIA:  Media coverage of this event is welcomed.  For additional information about the Railroad Park event, please contact John Paul Taylor at (205) 585-8271.
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