Saturday, April 02, 2016

WORD UP! Teen Spoken Word Competition to be Held at Central Library on Sunday, April 10

2015 WORD UP! winners: (l-r) Trinity Packer, Shades Valley High School (3rd place);
Whitney McWilliams, Alabama School of Fine Arts (2nd place);
Miaya Webster, Alabama School of Fine Arts (1st place)

Some of Jefferson County’s most talented young spoken word artists will get a chance to compete for cash prices at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL). WORD UP!, a poetry slam for students enrolled in high schools or homeschooled in Jefferson County, will be held on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at 3:00 p.m., in the Fiction Department at the Central Library.

The slam is sponsored by the BPL and Real Life Poets, a nonprofit creative writing organization based in Birmingham. Students in grades 9 through 12 will perform an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee. The theme for WORD UP! 2016 is “Speak Out!”

Visit the WORD UP! webpage for details at

The contestants are judged on content and performance by a panel of three judges and compete for cash prizes. The first place winner receives $300, second place $200, and third place $150.

“These young poets put an incredible amount of work into this slam and learn invaluable lessons about public speaking—how to engage an audience, use body language effectively, and stay composed under pressure,” said Haruyo Miyagawa, WORD UP! coordinator and head of the Arts, Literature, and Sports Department at the Birmingham Public Library. “These skills will really benefit them in future academic and career pursuits.”

The 2015 winner was Miaya Webster of Alabama School of Fine Arts, who is currently a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta. Webster advanced from being second place winner in the 2014 WORD UP! and was the third place winner in 2013.

Each participating high school held a preliminary contest, and the winners from each school will compete in the WORD UP! competition. The participating schools for this year are as follows:

Birmingham City Schools - Carver High, Parker High, Ramsay High, Woodlawn High
Jefferson County Schools - Center Point High, Clay-Chalkville High School, McAdory High
Independent schools - Alabama School of Fine Arts, Bessemer, Holy Family Cristo Rey
Homewood High, Hoover High, Spain Park High, Tarrant High

For more information about WORD UP!, call Miyagawa at (205) 226-3670 or e-mail

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