The Heard ‘Em Say Poetry Slam Team was created to identify, cultivate and exhibit exemplary teen poets from Tampa Bay and surrounding areas through the vehicle of ‘slam poetry’. The team is committed to developing strong and creative writing with an emphasis on innovative, energetic and polished presentations. The Heard ‘Em Say Poetry Slam Team is a program and extension of the Heard ‘Em Say Youth Arts Collective (adhering to organizational guidelines and principles) The team’s goal is to represent the flourishing talent base in the region as young, modern-day Tampa Bay griots!
The team is organized and executively directed by:
Walter “Wally B.” Jennings.
The Heard ‘Em Say Slam Team Leadership includes:
Head Coach-Xavier “CoolKid” Grullon
Slam Trainer-Angelique “Giddy” Perez
Writing Trainers-ZenChristian Mott & Aubrey “Luna” Diaz
Performance Trainer-Tovonnia “BlaqWldFlwr” Lewis
Team Advisors-Dennis Amadeus (HES Artistic Director & Community Liasion)
Angela Lawrence (HES Communications Director)
Liz Prisley (HES Education Director)
Any additional Adult Volunteers will be pre-approved by Walter “Wally B.” Jennings and the Leadership Team. We will be sure to inform you in advance of any Adults that may be brought in to volunteer with the teens.
The teens will prepare group pieces and strengthen individual poems, under the direction and tutelage of the coach and staff in order to compete at the Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival and various other events. We will organize at least one face-to-face practice per week; these practices will increase to twice a week in June and thrice a week in July. It is imperative that team members remain in contact via phone or computer between these meetings in order to build chemistry and promote cohesion. Also, team members are required to be prepared AND on time for all practice sessions. Team strategy will most often be determined by the situation (which poem(s) works best given the circumstances). Although it is always ‘desirable’ that each teen member have the opportunity to perform, it is not always feasible. Poets are encouraged to work towards putting themselves in more favorable positions to perform by ensuring that they are proficient in their individual poems and group pieces.
The team captain serves as a youth leader and liaison (i.e., link) between the coaches and the team. This means that this individual is responsible for fostering, promoting and modeling effective communication, cooperation and positive collaboration efforts. He/She is the student overseer of the group and is empowered to speak on behalf of the team to help govern team policy and protocol.
Disclaimer: The team captain is chosen at the discretion of the H.E.S. Leadership Team, which makes campaigning for this role unnecessary and of no consequence. The captain is identified and appointed based on the following criteria: (1) observation of the teen’s unwavering commitment to the organization’s philosophy and standards, (2) strong content of character and conduct in principle and practice and (3) service and respect towards other team members (i.e., servant leader), fellow artists and the diverse community.
Team Captain Role and Responsibilities:
- Organizes extra practice sessions that benefit the team. (as needed; based on Team consensus: Phone conferences, Face-to-Face, etc.)
- Maintains order in practice, workshops, meetings or off-site during performances.
- Maintains an unbiased viewpoint and exercises confidentiality when sensitive information is shared such as concerns and/or conflicts.
Judgment calls will made by the coaches in the event that the captain or any team member abuses his or her position on the team.
Code of Conduct Policy
The code of conduct policy is the commitment of the H.E.S. Leadership Team to establish the proper ideals of sportsmanship, ethical conduct and appropriate behavior and actions during all activities and performances. We expect acceptable standards of good citizenship with proper regard for the rights and respect of others.
We are further committed to the belief that parents with teens participating in activities should also provide a noble example of decent and proper behavior. This also includes family members, friends and associates. Conduct which is detrimental to the educational value of activities may be deemed just cause for the individual’s reprimand, probation or suspension from future activities.
BEHAVIOR ExpectationsIt is the responsibility of the teen to:
- Demonstrate self-control and respect for others at all times, be they fellow poets, coaches, judges or spectators.
- Remember that participation and the right to be heard is a privilege that is not to be abused by unethical conduct.
- Deal with opponents with respect and decency. Shake hands after the competition and congratulate them on their performance. Encourage fellow artists on other teams as much as you do your own team members.
- Respect the integrity and decision of the judges.
- Remember that improper behavior reflects poorly upon yourself, your family, your school and your community.
- Know, understand and abide by the rules and regulations of the competition.
- Accept victory with grace and defeat with dignity.
- Remember that the use, abuse and resulting negative influence of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco is strictly prohibited and may lead to disciplinary action.
- No profanity; it takes up room where stronger language and writing can take place.
- Punctuality is necessary for special events. If you commit yourself to participating in an event, you must give 48 hours’ notice of cancellation if you cannot attend.
Communication is extremely important and it is the student's responsibility to remain in contact with the group and leadership. Leadership will distribute all information via text or group message. All other grievances can be communicated directly to leadership:
Leadership are available to handle student grievances from 8am-8pm. All other texts, emails or calls will be handled on case-by-case basis. Students are encouraged to reach out to leadership with their needs, but are also advised to be considerate of their time. The primary focus of the Leadership Team is the wellbeing of our students; however, Heard ‘Em Say is one of many commitments they attend to. Students will also be placed on a group message with leadership and other current students to ensure a clear communication stream. (Platform of choice is GroupMe).
Heard Em Say wants to ensure that every student that desires to participate in the program has the opportunity to do so. We understand that some of our youth are not drivers and have to plan for transportation to and from workshop. To aid in this, each H.E.S. leadership staff member has been assigned a specific region in the Tampa Bay area to assist with transportation needs:
Xavier: Riverview/Brandon Area
Angela: Citrus Park/West Shore Area
Wally B: West/Central Tampa Area
Dennis: East Tampa/Temple Terrace Area
Liz: South Tampa/St. Pete Area
Students MUST contact the leadership staff member in charge of transportation for their area at least 48 hours prior to workshop. Emergency rides will be considered on a case-by-case basis; however, frequent “last minute requests” will not be accommodated. Please keep in mind that leadership staff must plan ahead for workshop and tend to the needs of other students. Therefore, the faster you communicate that you need transportation the easier it will be for leadership to plan accordingly. Students are responsible for maintaining communication with their transportation coordinator and remaining respectful of their time and property.
Students who cannot attend workshop will still have the option to join workshop via video chat.
Students must comply to “House Rules” while in Leadership Vehicles (established by staff on an individual basis)
2013 H.E.S. Slam Team:
Nia Scott, Nynchoyha Pitt,Kalimah Ujamaa, Arielle Nelson-Folkersen (Entourage), Jamie Dawson, Dakota Nelson-Folkersen, Jessica Allen
2014 H.E.S. Slam Team: Stephanie Grullon (Entourage), Misa Oliver, Aubrey Diaz, Xavier Grullon, Jessica Allen, Jamie Dawson, (not pictured) Nynchoyha Pitt.
2015 H.E.S. Slam Team:
Sarah Colarte, Aubrey Diaz, Jessica Allen, Xavier Grullon, Damien Cordero, Nynchoyha Pitt, (Not Pictured), Jamie Dawson, Dakota Nelson-Folkersen
2016 H.E.S. Slam Team:
Ashlyn Denson, Megan Kirkham, Sonia Hordge (Entourage, Jordan Theocharakis (Entourage), Laura DeSousa, Denzel Pierre, Amirah Rivers, Sarah Colarte
2017 H.E.S. Slam Team:
Michael Blinya, Jordan Theocharakis, Denzel Pierre, Megan Kirkham, Jenesis Miller