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Finalists Selected for the 2017 Nashville Youth Poet Laureate to Compete During State of the Word Showcase

11/30/2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Saturday, December 10, the ninth annual State of the Word poetry showcase will feature the region’s top college and high school writers, poets, emcees and spoken-word artists at 7 p.m. at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. As part of the showcase, three Nashville young adults will perform in the hopes of being selected as the third Nashville Youth Poet Laureate.

Tickets, $10 general admission and $3 for students, are available at www.southernword.org. Proceeds go to benefit Southern Word and the placement of writing mentors in Tennessee public schools.

“State of the Word presents an extraordinary example of a creative community, one that year after year inspires us to be our best selves. The young performers always amaze with their thoughts, creativity and ideas on how to make our community, schools and families better,” said Southern Word Board Chairman Anderson Williams. “Anyone who wonders or worries about the state of young people in our city should come. The issues our youth in Nashville deal with are real and intense, but at State of the Word their realities get expressed in words and performance. This event is both challenging and uplifting.”

The three Nashville Youth Poet Laureate finalists who will compete at the State of the Word were selected after a rigorous application and semifinal performance, which took into consideration applicants’ writing and performance skills, commitment to service, and ability to communicate their beliefs effectively. The three finalists are:

  • Gray Bulla is a junior at Nashville School of the Arts. He mainly writes poetry and fiction novels and was awarded a gold key for his short story in the 2015 Scholastic art and writing competition. When he isn't writing, Gray spends his time watching cartoons with his little sister. Gray is excited about being a finalist “because it’s a great way to shine some light on the things that our community needs to talk about more.”
  • Bucky Fuchs is a junior at Harpeth Hall School who enjoys computer science, English, and riflery. Bucky started doing spoken word poetry during a Southern Word residency freshman year. They performed at a STEM poetry contest and at the 2014 State of the Word, and instantly fell in love with the art form. “Spoken word poetry is the greatest way to express oneself and there is an amazing supportive community out there waiting to listen,” said Bucky.
  • Khaya Northcross is a junior at KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School. A Nashville native, she spends her free time writing, singing, and making keychains. Khaya describes being selected as “surreal” and is “honored to stand amongst one of the most amazing families and a community that will stand up with us when we feel like we can't.”

The Nashville Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of the Office of the Mayor, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Nashville Public Library, Nashville Public Library Foundation, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Urban Word, and Southern Word. Supporters of the Nashville Youth Poet Laureate program recognize that youth voice and community engagement are vital for empowering young people to make positive changes in their communities and beyond.

All State of the Word performers come from Southern Word’s programs, which are sponsored by the Nashville Public Library, Nashville Public Library Foundation, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Memorial Foundation, Humanities Tennessee, Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Foundation, and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

For inquiries and interviews, please contact Benjamin Smith at info@southernword.org or 615-686-5456.

About Southern Word

Through the literary and performing arts, Southern Word offers creative solutions for youth to build literacy and presentation skills, reconnect to their education and to their lives, and act as leaders in the improvement of their communities. We are absolutely committed to providing youth, especially in underserved communities, with as many opportunities as possible to develop and publicly present their voices both live and in print, video, audio, and digital media.

About the Nashville Youth Poet Laureate Program

The Nashville Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of the Office of the Mayor, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Nashville Public Library, Nashville Public Library Foundation, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Urban Word, and Southern Word. The Nashville Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, diversity and tolerance, and youth voice across Nashville.