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Pittsburgh Poetry Performance to Benefit New Youth Poetry Group

Brookline will soon be a base for youth poetry group Young Steel.

A group of Pittsburgh poets will hold an event Friday to benefit more than one cause.

Part of the proceeds from Friday’s “Words with Benefits” performance at Club Cafe will help the Steel City Slam adult poetry league attend a national poetry event. Proceeds also will help the group start Young Steel, a new slam poetry group for area teens.

“There is no youth slam poetry league in Pittsburgh, which is why we wanted to start one,” said Tera McIntosh of Steel City Slam.

McIntosh, of Brookline, said about 30 local students have shown interest in the Young Steel project so far.

Because most of the adult league events take place later at night and in local bars or clubs, most students can’t attend, she said. The Young Steel events would take place in coffee shops—starting with in Brookline—and branch out from there.

“If you come to open mic nights (at Cannon Coffee) you’ll see some youth read, but they don’t always have the guidance or the coach to give them that confidence in their abilities,” McIntosh said.

The group would be guided by Steel City Slam members, McIntosh said, who could encourage the youth members to dig deeper into different issues with their poetry and teach them how to recite it publically.

“A lot of it is about engagement and getting them to step outside of the norms of what they’re used to,” McIntosh said. “We want them to engage in positive activities that have intention.”

It’s also about forming bonds.

Steel City Slam Master Adriana Ramirez, who began her career in performance poetry about 10 years ago, said that nationally, slam poets form a family-like network. 

When she came to Pittsburgh from Texas to work on her master’s degree, she already knew many slam poets in the area because she’d met them at national events.

“I can give you a million examples of poets and how we all use and help and support one another,” she said. “It’s really a family, even though we’re all over the country.”

Ramirez, now a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, said she hopes starting a local Youth League will give young people the chance to meet people who can help and encourage their work.

The first Young Steel slam poetry event is scheduled for Jan. 28 at Cannon Coffee. It’s open to kids ages 13 to 19, from any local school district. The group doesn’t have a website, but information can be found on its Facebook page, “Young Steel.”


If you’re going:

Event: “Words with Benefits,” presented by Steel City Slam.

Featured performers: William James, Adriana E. Ramirez, Tera McIntosh, Thomas, Konscious Lea and Special Guest.

Place: Club Café, 56-58 South 12th St., Pittsburgh 15203.

Time: 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Cost: $10 at the door or in advance.

Contact: Buy tickets at http://www.ticketweb.com/clubcafe, by calling 866-468-3401, or in person at Dave's Music Mine on Carson Street in the Southside.

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