Education and Community Engagement

WE SPEAK Annual Youth Poetry Slam Competition

Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA) invites young people (ages 13-21) living in the Puget Sound region to submit video samples of spoken word performance responding to the themes:

  • Belonging – How do we connect with ourselves and our communities to find belonging?
  • Self-Care – It can be hard to take time for oneself, especially when under pressure. Respond to the theme of self-care and how it affects you and your community.
  • Identity – Identity encompasses the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self. Who are you? How do you see yourself in society? How have you and your perspectives evolved over time?

Three finalists will be selected to perform their work LIVE from the ECA Stage, during WE SPEAK on Friday, March 1, 2024. The deadline to submit materials is January 30, 2024 by 11:59PM.


ECA’s annual WE SPEAK is a celebration of spoken word poetry and storytelling. It seeks to integrate critically acclaimed artists alongside talented local youth and provide a platform for artists to respond to issues that impact themselves, their communities, and the world. This year, we're asking questions like: How do we find belonging? How do we approach self-care?

We are honored to welcome former Seattle Civic Poet Anastacia-Reneé to headline the WE SPEAK stage this year. Queer writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, speaker, and podcaster, Anastacia-Renee is the author of (v.) and Forget It, and the forthcoming titles Here in the (Middle) of Nowhere and Sidenotes from the Archivist. In addition to her time as Seattle Civic Poet from 2017-2019, Anastacia-Reneé was Hugo House Poet-in-Residence (2015-2017), Arc Artist Fellow (2020), and Jack Straw Curator (2020). She lives in New York City.

“Anastacia-Reneé broils the alphabet with accents of Zora and bobby pins and tangled braids; she is busy here melding a blackgirl womansong with a backbeat of black jesus and barbie heads; she is weaving a ghosted blues of cop cars and sparrow eyes; she is translating a language of pain to a semaphore of power.”
poet Tyehimba Jess

Anastacia-Reneé will perform alongside talented local youth chosen through a juried selection process, as part of the WE SPEAK Youth Poetry Slam Competition.

How to Enter the Youth Poetry Slam Competition

  1. Youth participants must be between the ages of 13 and 21, as of March 1, 2024, and live in the Puget Sound region.
  2. Create a video recording of 1-2 ORIGINAL spoken-word pieces. The entire video should be 10 minutes or under.
  3. Get creative! You may use costumes, props, music, and visual aids to share your spoken word performance. Please keep in mind, if you are a finalist, the performance elements in your video clip need to match the final performance.
  4. Fill out and submit this application form.
  5. Share the link to your video recording in the application or upload it here.
  6. Submission Deadline: January 30, 2024 by 11:59PM.

Evaluation Criteria

We are looking for your best spoken word performance in the language that you are most comfortable with! Spoken word is a term that applies to any type of poetry intended to be performed aloud. Spoken word has roots in traditions of oral performance that go back to times before the written word. It is an oral art that focuses on the quality of sound structure and patterns that make it compelling to the listener, often using rhyme, repetition, different voice inflections, and word play. It can contain elements of poetry, rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, dance, and music.

Video spoken word submissions will be evaluated on:

  • The poems’ relevance to the festival themes of belonging, self-care and/or identity. You can speak to one of the themes, or all of them.
  • Creativity and originality.
  • Rhythm and pacing.
  • Vocal inflection.
  • Coherence of form and structure.
  • Clarity of imagery and language.

Jury Panel

Finalists and winners will be evaluated by the WE SPEAK Jury Panel, comprised of local artists and community leaders. Jury Panelists TBA.


The 2024 Youth Poetry Slam Competition winner will be chosen by the jury panel based on their video submission. The first-place winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship. The second and third-place winners will each receive a $500 scholarship.

All three finalists will perform their work LIVE on the ECA Stage, during WE SPEAK, headlined by Anastacia-Reneé, on Friday, March 1 at 7:30PM.

Finalists will participate in a workshop at ECA in the weeks before the performance with a local poet mentor, TBA.


Please contact if you have any questions about the competition or submission process.

Spoken word performances must be of original composition by the author reading or performing the work in the video. Plagiarism is grounds for immediate dismissal from the competition. If you are under the age of 18, you must have permission from a parent or legal guardian to participate. Please message us if you have any technical issues with your upload and we will do our best to find a workaround.


Thank you to The Hazel Miller Foundation for their generous support of the Youth Poetry Slam Competition, and to ECA’s 2024 WE SPEAK event sponsors: Edmonds Bookshop, David Brewster & Mary Kay Sneeringer, and Walnut Street Coffee.

We Speak - Education & Community Engagement - Edmonds Center for the Arts
We Speak - Education & Community Engagement - Edmonds Center for the Arts
We Speak - Education & Community Engagement - Edmonds Center for the Arts
We Speak - Education & Community Engagement - Edmonds Center for the Arts
We Speak - Education & Community Engagement - Edmonds Center for the Arts
We Speak - Education & Community Engagement - Edmonds Center for the Arts