Fifteen years ago, James Kass founded Youth Speaks in San Francisco to introduce poetry and creative writing to young people. Since then, the group has helped tens of thousands of young people nationwide express themselves — and it’s helped launch a vibrant youth poetry movement.

Today’s Grand Slam Finals of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam is set to pack Davies Hall in San Francisco. Kass joins us as part of Forum’s “First Person” series on leaders, innovators and others who make the Bay Area unique.

James Kass, founder and executive director of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam

  • teach

    I am a science teacher and I am so excited by this program because I have been looking for a way to incorporate the arts into my biology classes.   My students next assignment is going to be poetry in science!!  This has been a wonderful, inspiring program.  Thank you.

  • Read

    I just finished at the gym and heard 15 minutes of the poetry program on my way to work.  I heard the 2 boys from Chicago recite their poem and walked into my office and pretty much collapsed in tears.  Thank you for all you do to make my life more full.

  • Kevin

     will the audio be available eventually? thanks.

  • Tiffany Altieri

     I am a first time member of KQED and wanted to comment on the morning’s forum.  I’ve never heard or attended a Poetry Slam, but hearing those two boys from Chicago recite their heartfelt verses of the mean streets they grew up on made me tear up on my commute to work.  It was nothing less than powerful and profoundly moving.  I am tearing up again just thinking about it.  Thank you for moments like these.  This is why I am a member.

  • Socorro

    Wonderful!! Fabulous!! Great!! We adults should take the responsibility to shame every federal, state, or local politician and bureaucrat each time they cut funds for education, essentially robbing our kids of their futures and their right to an education. We should compel them to listen to these truthful, exciting and vibrant voices read their poetry each time the budget comes up for consideration. Better yet, we should work forcefully against any man or woman in public office who does not put our youngsters and their education as the first order of business.  

    People who are planning to run for elected office should be aware that responsible adults will flush them out before they get elected. We adults have not fought or worked hard enough for the education of our children. This is the perfect time to change the past.

  • Nancy Merrill

    I heard some of the poets on radio May 20.  How can I hear them again and the rest of them? 

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