Teenagers With Souls of Poets Face Off

Liz Robbins:

It was a rainy Friday evening in Chelsea, and nobody wanted to go home, preferring instead to spit poems from the depths of their tortured teenage souls.
The finals of the New York Knicks Poetry Slam Program were in four days, and a handful of high school poets from around New York City had gathered at the headquarters of Urban Word, a literary arts organization for young people, to cheer Tia-Moné Llopiz as she cried out again in eloquent anguish over her mother’s death.
They needed to hear Cynthia Keteku, known as Ceez, come to grips with her girlfriend’s dumping her for a boy.
And they could not help but hear Elton Ferdinand III — even through the walls of the director’s office — crescendo to a state of raging guilt over his mute uncle in Guyana, a man misunderstood.
In their search for identity and their quest to be understood, the teenagers mold metaphors from their jagged-edge experiences and bend rhymes to their own rhythm.
“Ladies and gents, this is more than a silly teen’s heartbreak,” intoned Lauren Anderson, 16, who attends the Beacon School.