Denver's Minor Disturbance youth slam poetry team takes the nation again at Brave New Voices

Denver's two premier adult slam-poetry teams -- Slam Nuba and the Mercury Cafe, both national winners in years past -- have started their weeklong journey toward possible glory in Boston, where the 2013 National Poetry Slam is under way. But here in town, their youthful counterpart, Minor Disturbance, is already dancing in the street, back from Chicago after taking Brave New Voices -- the nation's top honor for youth slam poets -- on Saturday night, for the second year in a row.

See also: - Best Slam Poets - 2013: Minor Disturbance - The Minor Disturbance youth slam poetry team rules the nation at Brave New Voices 2012 - Minor Disturbance: 2012 MasterMind award winners

Isabel Elliot, Stephen Garcia, Clarke Sondermann, Andie Brent, Tolu Obiwole and Maddie Cramer -- all rookies except for two returning team members -- won with a remarkably mature and powerful repertoire, says longtime Minor Disturbance coach Ken Arkind.

"It was great this year because we passed the torch," Arkind adds. "I was not the head coach. Mary McDonough, a former youth-team member who has been an assistant coach the last three years, took over. That idea of empowerment has been our goal from the beginning. She made the calls, and I just supervised."

And which pieces carried the group in Chicago? Arkind favors a poem by a nineteen-year-old veteran in his last year with the youth team.

"I'm kind of partial to a poem by Stephen Garcia named 'Toa,' we all were," he says. "It was just a very important poem for people to hear. It's about what it means to be a young man of color in America. He never mentions Trayvon, but it's there. He basically tells his story about growing up on the west side and uses metaphors from his Samoan heritage to do so. 'Toa' wasn't the high score, though."

The group's top-scoring performance was "Rumors," which he calls "a poem about faith."

Faith goes a long way. Here's a taste of Minor Disturbance's winning ways:

Want to give Minor Disturbance a high five? They'll be guest performers tonight at Elemental Muse: Fire and Poetry, a bi-monthly open-mic beginning at 7 p.m. at the Fusion Factory. The event also includes live music and fire spinners, yow! Admission is free; go to the Facebook event page for details.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd