Top Young Spoken Word Poets to Watch

Top Young Spoken Word Poets to Watch

For years the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) has served as the stage for young poets to strut their stuff and earn their place at the mic.

Here are some of the impressive new voices to emerge out of the competition.

1) Kevin Kantor

An easy choice – Kevin’s performance already has gone viral. His brave account of rape culture and how male survivors are cast aside has touched people everywhere. But this is only a small piece of the astonishing work the 22 year old University of Northern Colorado student has delivered. His pieces “A Letter to Cancer” and “Honest Confessions on Letting Go” are also diverse and stellar.

2) Crystal Valentine

This NYU student who led her team to victory at CUPSI 2015 has already been on the spectrum for her bold and honest pieces. As the NYC Youth Poet Laureate and a deeply engaged part of the urban word community, her work is some of the most breathtaking to come from that region.

3) Nora Cooper

Although new to the game, Nora Cooper’s heart-wrenching performance shows of a promising voice and compassionate perspective on suicide. As a member of the UCLA team, she’s being coached by slam champion Rudy Francisco, so she’s certainly in good hands.

4) Ethan Smith

Long before transgender issues were in the headlines, Ethan Smith was fighting for representation and understanding through his own experience. The courage and grace in his performance can even the most prejudiced a lesson in empathy.

5) Tonya Ingram

The more veteran of the group, Tonya has since graduated her home team at NYU at gone onto represent Hollywood on their team which will compete at NPS. She’s a published author who has also collaborated with Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and Daily Feminism.