This is video of “Post Partum” in Round 4 of the BNV Grand Slam Finals. I’m working as quickly as possible to get the videos rendered and uploaded for those eagerly awaiting to view what went down in The Bay last week. Unfortunately, I came back from Cali with a cold (as usual), so I’m a little sluggish…so bear with me. 

Love, Sharvy

My Attempt At Paperclipping

…because all the cool kids were doing it on Facebook. Paperclipping, a poetry movement made known by the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, is using nonsensical metaphors that don’t correlate whatsoever in an attempt to SOUND profound but really means nothing whatsoever. Here is mine:


be a pencil and cigarette

ballroom dancing behind blind earlobes

a staccato machine gun of breast implants and one word text messages

etched into the existential mindset of an atheist’s tramp stamp

He breathes infinity,

into a tall glass of half empty fullness

a soda bottle revelation for black men in prisons

who found Jesus in the corner advertisement of a Qur’an Sparknote

but not enough sense to recycle the contradiction

I weep for America.

Help Spoken Word Poet Jon Alexander Watford study abroad in 12 countries with just $2!

Hey there!

My name is Jon Alexander Watford. I’m a junior Psychology major at Morehouse College from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a McNair Scholar, a spoken word poet, and the author of a book of original poetry, Love Letters. I’ve competed in Brave New Voices twice, and the National Poetry Slam once. I’m one of the two 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam representatives from Atlanta, GA.I’m also 19! I’m writing to let you know about my online fundraising campaign to study abroad next semester. 

My birthday (September 29th) is coming up, and I only want one thing: to study abroad with Semester at Sea for the Spring 2014 voyage. Semester at Sea would take me to 12 countries on two continents that I’ve never been to. It will be my first time overseas! Problem is, this trip costs about $25,000 before any spending money. I’ve managed to make most of this up with financial aid, but I need your help for the last bit.

You can make my birthday AMAZING!

I’ve started an online fundraising campaign with IndieGoGo. My goal is $3,000 by October 11. $215 has been raised so far. If 930 more people gave $3, or 1395 people gave $2, I would reach my goal.

On this fundraiser, every little bit counts, so please keep sharing this and donating what you can! Tell friends to donate even $2!  I wouldn’t ask you to donate for nothing, so you can receive perks for donating different amounts! $2 gets you a haiku, but $10 gets you a signed copy of my book AND a haiku! You can check out my fundraiser here:

To learn more about Semester at Sea, go to

Your donation would help me see the world.

Plus, I’ve been a spoken word poet, so you’ll be giving me more inspiration for my art! I’ve performed at three different national poetry competitions, and I will soon be attending the Individual World Poetry Slam. (Check out my work at

Remember: Even if you can’t donate, spread the word, and encourage others to do so!

Thank you so much for your time and your help.


Jon Alexander Watford

Here’s the team at the second bout of quarterfinals paying total attention and being held by the person who hit the stage, showing the same kind of respect that they want in return, not thinking about the competition in that moment, just paying attention to the poem, the story, the truth that’s on the mic.

BNV 2011 Coaches Blog #1

Quaterfinals | Dance Mission Theater | Friday, July 22, 2011 | 10:00 AM PST

Philly | Jacksonville, FL | Hampton Roads, VA | Tennessee | Baton Rouge, LA

(Disclaimer: My blogs will be all over the place sometimes.  I’m trying my best to free write without going back and touching up the blogs)

The keyword for this bout was nerves. We as a unit were all pretty nervous and anxious.  A lot of people didn’t realize we were a relatively new team. Only one member of the team returned from 2010 team that represented in Los Angelos, as well as the three “new” coaches (myself, Kavi Ade, & Denice Frohman).  The previous two years, I helped “Just” Greg Corbin coach, but never made any of the major decisions.  My work as coach was strictly in a preparatory & consultation role.  This year, Greg turned the bout decisions over to the coaches he appointed.  I was indeed nervous our first bout.  I’m sure Kavi and Denice were too.  We tried our best not to show it however..

Slam poetry is a lot like chess sometimes. In chess, you have to understand what pieces to move and when.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice a piece or two for better position on the board.  Sometimes when it looks like you’re winning, someone has you exactly where they want you.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice a piece or two to get yourself out of a sticky situation. There’s a rule at BNV, you can only repeat TWO pieces in the first three rounds of competition.  Meaning, if you do POEM A, and POEM B twice in your first two quarterfinal matches, you are not allowed to repeat ANY of the poems you’ve already performed once you get to Semi Finals. However, if you are fortunate enough to make it to Finals, you may perform any piece you want.

We started the bout spitting 2nd. The first piece scored relatively well but we end the first round in 4th place. In the 2nd round,  our piece didn’t score well at all. I’m not quite sure why it didn’t resonate with the judges because normally it scores out the roof. The poem is beautifully written and it’s a true story. Safi spit with a lot of passion and I was extremely proud of her for sharing such a personal story. The low score it received put us in 5th place after two rounds *boooooo the freaking judges*

The way BNV was setup in 2011 is the top 10 teams from the East, and the top 10 teams from the West, advance to Semi-Finals. The position you finish in your Quarter Final bouts is critical. If you come in 1st in both of your quarterfinal bouts, you finish the day with a 2.  If you come in 1st place in your first bout, and 2nd place in your second bout, you end the day with a 3. Finishing in 5th place in one of your bout pretty much assures you won’t be advancing to Semi Finals since the lowest possible score you can get at that point is a 6.

Being in fifth place after two rounds was a scary feeling. The Team worked so hard to get to The Bay, and I didn’t want them to go home after one round. Being in this position caused us (coaches) to do two things we didn’t want to do:

  1. We put up two of our stronger pieces, which we didn’t want to do (wanted to try and save them for our 2nd bout, and Semi Finals).
  2. Putting up these pieces meant two of our poets (Sinnea & Charmira) wouldn’t get to touch stage, something coaches try to avoid.

Strategically, it worked.  Both poems, “Good Music,” and “Homicidal Rainbows” scored perfect 30s, and we finished tied for third with Tennessee. Landing a 3 isn’t ideal, but it means there’s still a possibility to make it to Semi Finals.  The competition was amazing. Jacksonville finished the bout 1st, Hampton Roads 2nd, Baton Rouge 5rh.

After the bout, the team and entourage hung around the venue for a while to talk. Greg gave great motivational words. Kavi let them know that PYPM has been in this position before (3rd in a quarterfinal) and still made it to Semis (the 2009 team did it, Kavi was a member of the team). I spoke a bit about their resilience and coming back from being in 5th and landing a 3. They fought to give themselves a chance to fight. From that, we left the building and started to walk over to our next bout.  The mood was loose and light.  I heard joking around and wise cracks (typical PYPM 2011).  Everyone knew what needed to be done, and what was in store for us. What needed to be done? We needed to come in first place. What was in store? The teams from Greensboro NC, Toronto, Providence RI, and the defending champions, New York City in round 2 of quarterfinals.


It's Not About the Points-- It's About the Poetry

At Brave New Voices a friendly, competitive spirit is key when competing. You must come up to opposing teams shake hands, give hugs, and tell them good luck. You must get up and scream for every team that comes up on stage as if you were clapping for yourself. But in the forefront of our minds, we still realize that this is a competition and someone has to win.

The sadness that follows the realization of losing is real. No matter how many times your mentors tell you that the points don’t matter, you still came wanting to win.

Later that night the teams who lost their quarter final bouts held an impromptu open mic. It was interesting to see how they organized this big performance on their own; no adult help whatsoever.

It was interesting to compare how they felt at the beginning of this open mic to how they felt by the end of it. In the beginning there were comments about “What were the judges thinking?” or “I can’t believe you weren’t chosen…you’re amazing!” At that point, the points were trumping the poetry.

But by the end, poetry trumped points. The open mic was no longer for a set group of people. Now, it was for anyone who wanted to meet new people and enjoy great poetry. It was no longer a losers open mic; instead it was a celebration of language.

-Marchella Baldwin

We have a lot of older videos on here, some are of us performing, some are from workshop and others are of us fooling around. Share them all, enjoy them all. If you have any videos of us from BNV, post them in related videos…Youtube users know how that works ;) There will be more footage coming soon, we have a lot of video and are working on them now. We’ll keep you all posted as to when they’ll be up.


One of the most valuable poetry workshops that I've ever been to did not involve writing.

After the part of the workshop that was focused on performers taking care of their bodies through regular warm ups, we all sat on the floor. To be more specific, we sat in a circle in order to transmit positive energy, relaxation and to all feel involved. There was no writing, it was only after realizing how direly important the things Beau Sia was saying were, that the kid next to me grabbed his note pad and pen. I feel a lot of things right now, there are going to be a lot of sentences prefaced with the words “I feel,” I apologize in advance, now be prepared:

  • I feel as though everyone note taking would have added some strange frantic energy to the room and we would not have been able to actually focus on what Beau Sia was telling us. 
  • I feel like this was one of the best workshops I’ve ever been to in my life, no exaggeration. 
  • I feel like (and this is the most important feeling of them all) that this would have benefited everyone competing at BNV and should have been a part of the opening ceremonies.

Some of the most important things that I’ve ever heard as a person who loves performance and performing were shared during this workshop. Thinking of yourselves in terms of what you “are” or “are not” will put unneeded pressure on you, being something you are not is a dishonor to the life you were given, this festival is not here for you to prove to someone who you “are” or “are not,” thinking in the polar terms of “good” and “bad” will cause us to be too hard on ourselves, our writing.

Keeping this all in mind, I feel that the path towards my purpose will be a little easier to navigate. Unnecessary role playing and trying to impress people with my poetry, with who I’d like them to believe I am will all be avoided. I’m glad I didn’t have to write in this workshop, I’m glad that I was given time to let this sink in my head and heart and I know as a performer, a lover of art, of activism, I will keep this in my mind and try my hardest to do things with honesty and love, hopefully the people competing in BNV and slams everywhere keep this bit of guidance in mind.


So I miserably failed at trying to reblog this from Coach Kavi, but here it is, via url stealing and some copy and paste.


(List of the Semifinals bouts)

"We made it! In our first bout yesterday we came in 3rd place after facing Baton Rouge, Hampton Roads, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. In our second bout we were up against New York, Providence, Toronto, and Greensboro, NC. If we didn’t place first we wouldn’t make semis. The team left it all on the stage and we won by 0.3 points (NY was 2nd) It was an amazing bout. Semis is in an hour and a half. Regardless of what happens I think I may be the proudest coach on the planet. This team is genuinely beautiful and honest." -Kavi


So I’ve been trying to reblog this for the longest. This song is one of the many songs that PYPM rocks to on a regular basis. We will spontaneously burst out in song anywhere. Here is an invitation to the experience that is our fun.