Spokes is the youth leadership body of Youth Speaks Seattle, as well as Totem Star. This crew of young leaders commits to a 7-month internship where they lead arts showcases, open mics, writing circles, poetry slams and produce a multi-arts album. They meet weekly for leadership development in event planning, public speaking, facilitation as well building their social justice analysis through artistry and cultural work.
Applications for next year’s Spokes board will be released in July.
Meet the 2017-18 Spokes & Teen Leadership
Esther Eidenberg-Noppe is a passionate, Jewish, genderqueer scorpio poet who writes and performs poetry about privilege and oppression in pursuit of comforting the disturbed, and disturbing the comfortable. Esther is a recent graduate of Nova High School, and is currently in their gap year. Esther has been writing and performing poetry for 4+ years, and they were a member of last year’s slam team traveling to Houston Texas for the 2018 international poetry slam competition, Brave New Voices. Lastly, Esther has had the great honor of writing and working with the amazing group of artists interning and working at Youth Speaks Seattle. Esther is this year’s youth Speaks legacy spokes intern.
I’m Hira Singh, a far more philosophical than religious Sikh-Punjabi poet from Kent Washington. I often humorously refer to myself as “The Dank Poet”, a name given to me by a random bystander whilst I was on stage performing. I’ve grown up enduring arduous experiences, often at a quandary as to where I fit in with the madness that is the world, as in my adolescence I would often come home with my turban knocked off and my teeny tiny limbs in excruciating pain due to the deleterious ignorance of White America. As a kid, the incessant torment and harrowing loneliness enervated my will to live, sending me into a state of chronic depression not only over my turban, but my nose, my face, my culture, my unconventionality in word and paradigm, and the ambiguity that was my life. I often screamed and ripped my achievements and accomplishments, from what to me were immaterial academic certificates, to drawings of my ancestors who endured copious centuries of persecution and oppression. I perform poetry because it has been the antidote to what I consider my Sickness of the Heart. A sickness so immanent that it is ubiquitous within the hearts of all humans; so savage that it relegates one’s dignity and impairs joy; so indelible that it can intergenerational. I want to cure the sickness of the heart, I want to challenge my masculinity as it does prove to be toxic from time to time, I want to challenge racial and systemic hegemonies, I want to challenge the patriarchy, and I want to create a new world where our children can reap the seeds of hope, love, and integrity that we will sow.
Joelle LeiLani is a Queer, female-identifying person, who uses her body and voice as a vessel for those who feel they’ve been silenced. She has been writing poetry for 7 years and performing on and off for 1.5 years. She has been involved with Youth Speaks Since summer ALLI 2017. She’s very energetic compassionate. Also, probably doesn’t know whats going on 98% percent of the time but thats fine because shes a Sagittarius so everything will be okay.
Mimi Hubbard likes astrology, but they like performing spoken word poetry even more. They are a maker of poetry, film photography, paintings, mixed-media art and music. Their work frequently alludes to neurodiversity and it’s place in society as well as its place in their life as a mentally ill and queer individual. Their visual work has been featured at the Seattle Art Museum’s Naramore Art Show, the Art Institute of Seattle, and the Capitol Hill Art Walk among others. They perform spoken word at Youth Speaks Seattle slams, have performed with youth poets at Town Hall featuring for Seattle Poetry Slam’s Grand Slam, and was part of 2017’s Arts Leadership and Liberation Institute in addition to cohosting Youth Speaks open mics every first Sunday at The Station in Beacon Hill. Their big three placements are Sun in Cancer, Moon in Leo, and Gemini ascendant. Ask them to analyze your birth chart at the next Youth Speaks Seattle event near you!
Eridon Stewart is a 14-year-old girl with a passion for activism, justice, and defending people from prejudice and bullying. Growing up bi-racial in an almost all white environment, she never knew where she fit in but didn’t want to put in the work to find out. She thought things were fine and that things would fix themselves. Once she moved to Seattle, she saw how bad things really were. She saw racism, violent police, an uncaring government, and uncaring masses. Horrified and enraged, Eridon decided to direct the anger to something that could help people. She now debates about social issues and people’s rights, and protests with causes like Black Lives Matter. Social activism has imbedded itself in her art and writing as well. Now she’s working with Spokes to try to contribute as much as possible to the community.
Mehria Ibrahimi is an Afghan-american artist, poet, and writer. Her work explores memory, history, and processes of reclamation and reimagination of home and identity. She believes that through art we may imagine worlds without violence, while also celebrating our survival in the moments between surviving.
Within centering narratives of healing, resistance, and love without borders and binaries in her storytelling she strives to engender the consolation of existing within a condition of hope – where survival and joy intersect. As part of Spokes Mehria hopes to honor the immense generational fortitude underlying her families and communities will to persist, alongside the gentle power of her friends’ unrelenting love for the earth and life which has proved capable of flowering movements. She is immensely happy to be here and witness to the vast beauty her fellow artists are capable of bringing into existence.
This is Ahava. Their name means “love” in Hebrew, and that’s exactly what they hope to bring to Youth Speaks. They are gother than they look in this picture, gay, and Jewish. They love cats, poké bowls, and engaging in meaningful discussion. They write poetry about misogyny, Jewishness, trauma, and mental illness. They’re a Libra sun, Sagittarius moon, and Capricorn rising. Also, they love you! ❤❤❤
ZAG, real name Amr Awwad, is an Egyptian Hip-Hop artist, Spoken Word Poet, and DJ. Driven by his passion for social justice and Equity, ZAG has been vocal and active in the Hip-Hop and Spoken Word community, performing at many venues including The Moore Theatre and MoPop’s Sky Church. ZAG is also a 2016-2017 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador. In the future, ZAG hopes to go back to Egypt and start his own nonprofit, helping youth know their rights through art and self-expression.
Suraya Williams is a cat-loving 16-year-old who enjoys singing, acting, and visual arts but most importantly spoken word which has become a big part of her life she loves to tackle important issues that are not otherwise talked about but are always there regarding blackness, whiteness, colonialism, and patriarchy including a whole lot of other topics regarding her identities as a queer African American women with occasional angst and love poems on the side. She loves appreciating and basking in the talent everyone has to offer and building community through doing what she loves and hopes to help other people use their voice as the lovely people at Youth Speaks have helped her.
Totem Star Leaders
LIO is a 17 year old multitalented artist from South Park, Washington. Having been deep in her numerous art forms for 5 years now; LIO: a black, queer woman is using her non-privilege to gain self-love, confidence as well as tend to her artistic releases advocating for civil rights, as well as awareness for victims of abuse and LGBTQ youth. You’ll find her being brutally honest if she isn’t extremely silent in the back of the room or bouncing to productions in the Totem Star studio.
Mirabai Jyothi Kukathas loves nothing more than hearing and telling a good story, whether that be through theater, literature, discussion or music. Born in Seattle and raised in between Malaysia and Vietnam, her identity as a multicultural person (Tamil, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, American, etc) has done a lot to influence the way she sees the world. Mirabai has loved to sing all her life and is trying to become a songwriter. She’s a people person currently working towards self-healing /discovery and most importantly, towards using her passion to create a more just and equitable world. She is so excited to be part of Spokes and work with so many kind, talented people this year.
Zoser is a singer/songwriter and music bender. An alluring voice, thoughtful lyrics, and a guitar grounds this Georgia native as he makes his way through the Puget Sound. Zoser’s music travels effortlessly between alternative, pop, country, and always strikes the listener’s soul.