Spokes is the youth leadership body of Youth Speaks Seattle, as well as Totem Star and the Teen Leadership Program. This crew of young leaders commit to a 7-month internship where they lead open mics, writing circles, poetry slams and produce a multi-arts album. They meet weekly for deep 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 Leaders
Zaria is a 17 old, young women of color who attends Thomas Jefferson High School. She is also part of the youth leadership council at Young Women Empowered. If she were to describe herself in three words she would say “brown and down (to wreck systemic oppression).” She enjoys writing poetry, dancing, and fashion. She writes as an outlet and form of activism. A goal of Zaria’s is to give others that look like her voice and see them being accurately represented in the media.
Azura Tyabji is your friendly neighborhood poet warrior. Her pen, laptop, and dizzying array of metaphors are her weapons of choice. That said, she’s not belligerent, just enthusiastic. Seattle born and raised, Azura writes about race and gender, cool historical tidbits and anecdotes she finds, and any other complexity that inspires her. Her goal is to practice imagining a better future (she loves sci-fi, after all!), to foster thought-provoking discussions wherever she goes, and to grow together with her fellow artists.
Carlynn Newhouse is an African American poet, activist, and performer. She was the 2015 Youth Speaks Seattle Grand Slam Champion and competed in the Brave New Voices poetry festival in 2015 and 2016. Carlynn has performed at well known venues such as Seattle Town Hall, Bumbershoot, the Kennedy Center, and others. You can catch her spitting in the annual Youth Speaks Seattle slam series or sharing love and community during the monthly open mics at The Station Cafe.
Abel Berhan // My art is real, abstract, magnificent, powerful, and intense. I’m from Seattle, specifically Burien and White Center, and it has shaped me into seeing the flaws of our equality system in race, class, education system, and safety. Some of my professional artistic accomplishments are: In 6th grade, I was a solo ensemblist for saxophone. I performed a spoken word for a summer banquet. I’m an intern for Spokes. I first inspiration is my older sister Missy. She’s had a phenomenal path through high school and college as the first person in my family to go to college. My second inspiration is Joshua Bennet. He’s created one of my favorite spoken words, and the intense passion he carries in his writing and voice is so powerful. Other than my art, one thing I’m extremely passion about is sports. I’ve had a long history of playing soccer in my past but now run cross country and track competitively across the state. One thing someone wouldn’t know by looking at me is I love and care for my younger brother who is autistic.
Esther Eidenberg-Noppe is a passionate Jewish, genderqueer, Scorpio poet in love with trees, chocolate, and activism. They write and perform poetry about gender, sexism, social justice issues, mental illness, love, and body shaming, in pursuit of comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable. A junior at Nova high school, Esther is working towards graduating and going to college for poetry next year. Lastly, Esther is exceptionally honored to be working with the amazing group of artists interning and working at youth speaks this year, and looks forward to the magic this group will create during the following year.
Joelle LeiLani is a Junior at Tyee Highschool who uses her body and voice as a vessel for those who feel they’ve been silenced. She has been involved with Youth Speaks Since summer ALLI 2017. She’s very energetic and 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!
Da’Sund is a multi-media artist with a sense of humor, and a radical heart. He wants his talents and passion to spread a message of peace, love, and positivity. He is a rain city slam finalist, a 19yr old poetry teacher. And is an east coast artist, west coast poet.
Totem Star Leaders
Mirabai Jythi Kukathas loves nothing more han 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 exited to be part of Spokes and work with so many kind, talented people this year.
Lashaunyncee O’Cain aka LIO // I discovered my love for music when I was maybe 11 after experimenting with writing novels and poems. I was exposed to music on the regular as I was growing up and I guess it rubbed off! I took on the role of a singer in a group that consisted of me, my older sister, and her ex-best friend. At the time, I was the songwriter, writing about being hurt in love (which I knew nothing about). The group thing stopped working after about a year. Their energy didn’t match mine, and I realized I wasn’t writing and singing for fun – I was doing it because I’d fallen in love with it! By the time I went solo, I discovered a passion for rapping. I idolized Eminem, Macklemore, Tupac, and recently Witt Lowry, all revolutionary artists and storytellers, which is something I connected with as an author. In addition to these artists, I idolize Little Simz the most. She’s a rapper from the UK that I see a lot of myself in. She finds this sort of comfort in her music that I feel like I have with mine and I look to her and her music as a guide to talk about the dark places because she knows that not everything is always suns and rainbows and that when it is… It’s a place we have to remember while we have it. She’s that gritty artist that brings another meaning to ‘female emcee.’ What made me want to write about my life experiences was imagining that one day someone would tell me my music had changed their life for the better. Maybe they had realized their worth in being human. Maybe they were hurt, or lonely, or sad, you know? That’s what made me want to perform! Man, just to see them. And by ‘them,’ I mean the friends. The ‘fans.’ The people who’ve come a long way to support my story because they connect to it. Because it evokes something in them. Feel me?
After hearing everything from guns and roses to the ghetto boys growing up, Jahlil Kirby, better known as Jawzilla, pursued music after picking up his first Ibanez guitar shortly after receiving his first suspension from the 3rd grade. Today he’s a Seattle based songwriter, producer, director, and founder of Nificent clothing co. Being also part of alternative rap group munkbizz, Jawzilla has played on many stages from cafe red to chop suey hosted by Macklemore.