|WORD UP! 2013 winner Eboni Wallace|
|Second and third place winners Patrice Talley and Miaya Webster|
For the second year, Eboni Wallace was named winner of the annual WORD UP! competition sponsored by the public libraries of Jefferson County and Real Life Poets. As the winner, she received a cash prize of $300 and the 2013 trophy. Eboni is a student at Tarrant High School and an active participant in the monthly teen poetry workshops led by the non-profit group Real Life Poets. The workshops are held on the first Saturdays of the month at the Central Library. Patrice Talley from the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) won second place, and Miaya Webster, also from ASFA, placed third. This year’s competition had even more meaning for Eboni and the other contestants because the top 6 finalists this year will, if selected to participate, represent Alabama in Chicago this August for the international Brave New Voices poetry competition—the first time representatives from Alabama may have an opportunity to take the stage.
WORD UP! is an annual poetry slam for high school students who are enrolled in schools or home schooled in Jefferson County. The Sixth Annual WORD UP! competition was held Sunday, April 7 at 3:00 p.m. in the Birmingham Public Library’s Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium. Participating students represented high-schools including the Alabama School of Fine Arts; Birmingham City Schools—Parker and Woodlawn; Jefferson County Schools—Center Point, Minor, Pinson and Shades Valley; Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School/Shades Valley; and independent systems comprising, Hewitt-Trussville, Leeds, Vestavia, and Tarrant. Jim Reed, owner of Reed Books and a prominent figure in the local arts scene, served as the emcee. The judges were Yolonda Carter, David Hornbuckle, and Dee Byrd Smith.
Each year, students in grades 9 through 12 write and perform an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee. In keeping with the spirit of the city of Birmingham’s 50th anniversary civil rights commemoration, contestants performed original poetry inspired by photographs of scenes from the civil rights era. Each participating high school held a preliminary contest, and the first and second place winners from each school competed in the WORD UP! competition. The contestants were judged on content and performance by a panel of three judges.
Word UP! 2013 was made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.