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Youth Poets Bust for the Obamas

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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

Young people are bringing spoken word to the White House.

Two young poets from Youth Speaks' Brave New Voices national poetry festival were invited to perform for the President and First Lady, as part of a line-up that also included James Earl Jones, Lin Manuel Miranda, Mayda Del Valle, and Esperanza Spalding.

Joshua Bennett, 19 years old, is originally from Yonkers NY and comes out of Urban Word NYC. Jamaica Osorio, 18, is a member of Youth Speaks Hawai'i. The White House event is part of an ongoing conversation the Obama Administration has initiated on the role of the arts and arts education as tools for change.

For more from these young poets and their super talented counterparts around the country, check out the Brave New Voices HBO special, presented by Russell Simmons and narrated by Queen Latifah, which has its finale on Sunday, May 17th.

And here's the poem Joshua Bennett chose to perform for the Obamas: Tamara's Opus.

Tamara has never listened to hip-hop.
Never danced to the rhythm of raindrops
or fallen asleep to a chorus of chirping crickets
she has been deaf
for as long as I have been alive
and ever since the day I first turned five
My father said
Joshua
Nothing is wrong with Tamara

God just makes some people different.

And at that moment

those nine letters felt like hammers

swung gracefully by unholy hands

to shatter my stained-glass innocence

into shards

that could never

be pieced back together

or do anything more

than sever the ties
between my sister and I

I waited,

was patient numberless years

anticipating the second 

her ears would open like lotuses

and allow my sunlight sentences to seep

into her insides
make her remember

all those conversations

we must have had in Heaven

back when God handpicked us

to be sibling souls

centuries ago

I still remember, her 20th birthday.

Readily recall my awestruck eleven-year old eyes

as I watched

deaf men and women of all ages

dance in unison to the vibrations

of speakers booming so loud

that I imagined angels chastising us

for disturbing their worship

with such beautiful blasphemy

until you have seen

a deaf girl dance
you know nothing of passion.

There was a barricade between us

that I never took the time to destroy

never for even a moment

thought to pick up a book and look up

the sign for sister

for family

for goodbye, I will see you again some day

remember the face of your little brother.

It is only now I see

that I was never willing

to put in the extra effort to love her properly

So as the only person in my family

who is not fluent in sign language

I have decided to take this time

to apologize

Tamara, I am sorry, for my silence.
but true love
knows no frequency.

so I will use these hands

to speak volumes

that could never be contained

within the boundaries of sound waves.

I will shout at the top of my fingertips

until my digits dance

and relay my mental messages

directly to your soul

I know, that there is no poem

that can make up for all the time we have lost

but please, if you can
just listen.

Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit Youthradio.org