The Team

The HomeWord slam team represents the City of Asheville at The Brave New Voices poetry festival and competes in the International Youth Poetry Slam.  The team is comprised of the top  five to six youth poets in western North Carolina as determined by The Youth Grand Slam Championships held in April.  To qualify for the YGSC, poets must compete in the regular slam season along with completing educational and public service requirements.  The end goal of most competitive youth poets is to earn one of the six coveted spots on the HomeWord Slam Team.  If you manage to be one of those top six poets, committing to being on the team includes weekly practices during the two remaining months of school and then a minimum of three team practices a week.  Late night rehearsals and long road trips to workshop and showcase with other regional slam teams are commonplace. Team members who earn their spots continue to work for them even after they’ve made the team.  Being open to coaching, editing, feedback and team building are absolute requirements.  The bond that comes out of being on the team is one that will stay with you for years to come. HomeWord is family. Family is forever.  Asheville has a reputation of being one of the top writing teams in the world and has finished in the top ten teams in the world since 2013.


How do I qualify for the Youth Grand Slam Championships?

In order to be eligible for admission in to the*2016 HomeWord Youth Grand Slam*, poets must earn a minimum of 10 points during the regular slam season.  Poets must also fulfill the following requirements regarding the 10 point minimum:



During the regular season, poets must earn points from EACH of the following four categories:


1. HomeWord Slam Points (from 5 **HomeWord Slams**)

  • 1st Place - 5 Points
  • 2nd Place - 4.5 Points
  • 3rd Place - 4 Points
  • 4th Place - 3.5 Points
  • < 4th Place - 2 Point


2.  Workshops and Field Trips

  • Workshop Participation - 1 Point 
  • Traveling Showcase / Competition Event - 1 Point 
    • A maximum of 5 points can be earned from this category


3.  Cultural/Art Event or Community Engagement  (Must meet requirements and complete log)

  • Participating in a local social justice campaign event -- 1 Point
  • Participating in a local spoken word or writing event -- 1 Point  
  • Attending a spoken word artist performance -- 1 Point 
    • A maximum of 4 points can be earned from this category 


4.  Community Service  (Must meet requirements and complete log)

  • 2 Hours of Service - 1 Point (Must be at least 2 HOURS to receive credit)
    • A maximum of 3 points can be earned from this category


2017 HomeWord Youth Grand Slam

The 2015 HomeWord Youth Grand Slam will be held in May.   The 12 COMPETING POETS will be selected as follows:

  • 10 of the 12 spots will be awarded to the poets with the 10 HIGHEST POINT TOTALS.
    • This means simply meeting the 10 point minimum stated above does not guarantee you a spot.  This is to encourage consistent participation and growth throughout the season.
    • These 10 spots will only be given to poets who have met the 10 point minimum.  If 10 poets have not met the minimum by the end of the season, HomeWord reserves the right to reduce the number of poets in the Grand Slam.
  • 2 of the 12 spots will be chosen by a committee of the HomeWord Coaches
  • The top 10 point totals will be calculated on April 1st.  

The Grand Slam will choose the six poets who will make up the Asheville HomeWord Youth Slam Team.  They will represent the city of Asheville at Brave New Voices-- in the largest international poetry slam in the world.



Cultural/Art Event or Community Engagement

HomeWord encourages poets to engage with their communities, to be a part of dialogues about social justice issues, and to become a part of the greater art community in this area.  To fulfill the requirements of this category, poets should join community presentations and town halls (i.e. ACS’s Parent U, HoodTalk) to take in different perspectives on issues.  They should also seek out opportunities to see visiting artists, adult poets, and to participate in writing/performance events run by other local organizations (i.e. Poetry Slam Asheville, SoulSpeak, LEAF Schools and Streets)


Community Service Guidelines

Poets should seek to give back to local organizations, especially those who represent marginalized voices and advocate for social justice.   Examples of valid local service organizations include:  YWCA, Habitat for Humanity, RiverLink, Manna Food Bank, Steadfast House, and Care Partners.

“Service” is considered to be any activity in the community interest for which you are not paid, which benefits a nonprofit group, and for which you do not receive academic or other credit. Performance and showcase events do not count as service.  

  • If you perform service through a group with which you are affiliated (for example, with your youth group), you must show that the service benefits individuals outside of that group (in this case, a mission trip would count, but working in the nursery at your church would not). 
  • It needs to be service within an organization (you can not log hours for helping a neighbor),
  • There needs to be an adult supervisor who can sign off on your hours (this can not be a family member), and
  • It needs to be an organization that is not for profit (you can not get hours for volunteering your time at a business).  

If poets are unclear whether service will count, they should email questions to

To receive credit, the service must be approved by HomeWord; poets must complete a form to log their service (on the HomeWord webpage) and have a supervisor send an email verifying the service to

2012 Asheville WordSlam Team (San Francisco)

Liam Kelly Black -Grand Slam Champion

Shanita Jackson

Dakota Odur

Matt Kerber 

Jonahs Jones

Shannon Waldman


2013 AVL/BNV Team (Chicago)

Bryan Head -Grand Slam Champion

Shanita Jackson

Liam Kelly Black

Matt Kerber

Colin Miller

Oliana Luke


2014 HomeWord Youth Slam (Philadelphia)

Shanita Jackson -Grand Slam Champion

Bryan Head

Colin Miller

Liam Kelly Black

Luke Sageser

Chase Woodson


2015 HomeWord Youth Slam (Atlanta)

Shanita Jackson -Grand Slam Champion

Evan Dowty

Emma Lenderman

Chase Woodson

Devin Jones

Rebekkah LaBlue


2016 HomeWord Youth Slam (Washington, DC)

Devin Jones -Grand Slam Champion

Aidan Sailer

Evan Dowty

Michelle Padron

Pearl Conley

Steven Buys

2017 HomeWord Youth Slam (San Francisco)

Cade Wooten -Grand Slam Champion

Devin Jones

Michelle Padron

Pearl Conley

Sam Bible-Sullivan