BNV inspires youth poet to write for creative solutions
Written By: Desirae Lee
“Before BNV it was difficult for me to find inspiration,” said rising high school junior and youth spoken word artist Bryn Glennon.
Glennon is a veteran member of JYPS (Jax Youth Poetry Slam) team P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment) and is currently training to attend BNV.
BNV (Brave New Voices) is an annual five-day poetry festival and slam competition. The festival is hosted by Youth Speaks and located in a different city every year. This year, the Jacksonville team will be traveling to Washington D.C. to participate in workshops, rap battles, a variety of shows, and experience the BNV tradition.
I call it an experience and a tradition because I have personally felt the impact it can have on a young, developing poet. As the 2015 JYPS team captain, and two-time BNV attendee, I know that BNV can change a person’s perspective on poetry as well as their whole life.
“I don’t really write for myself anymore. Even when I do I’m still writing for the score or writing to be impactful,” said Glennon with hesitancy in his voice. At BNV every poem performed receives a score ranging from 1-10. Poets train for months to achieve a goal of three perfect tens. Even within the subjective nature of writing, poets like Glennon have to face the reality that there is such a thing as a grading scale for artwork.
This was a large part of why Glennon lost touch with the team after his first BNV. (Personally, I took a break from writing for over two months.) Glennon took time from writing and from his team. His active presence in our group chats faded to silence. Every time the remaining four of us saw each other the running joke was; “Hey, where’s Bryn?” followed by awkward stares and nervous laughter.
But his absence was understandable. The entire team came back to Jacksonville drained. The long hours together leading up to BNV (sometimes starting at 5am), nightly skype calls, emotion filled drills, and spending multiple days a week together was a shock for us all. At the end of the day it made us strong. We needed that strength for the rollercoaster that was BNV.
I reconnected with Glennon as he was riding with his 2016 teammates to Tampa for the ninth annual Heard Em’ Say statewide slam team competition. The irony and nostalgia rung true and clear as we reminisced on attending the same competition almost exactly one year earlier. It was
the first time we performed together.
I can hear the benefits of that year in his voice and in the way he forms his sentences. I notice his opinions about poetry take longer to form. Yet another affect BNV has had on his thought process. “I have to let things marinate more so they have the right intentions,” said Glennon.
While at BNV Glennon says he discovered that poetry could solve issues. What he learned while there, is now his goal for this year’s team and for his personal writing; “I want our team to be able to express a problem as well as a solution.,” said Glennon.
When asked for his personal definition of spoken word he replies with a pleasantly calculated response “spoken word is incorporating performance art; like theater and dance and song; with the written art such as poetry.”
Glennon has always had a knack for doing just that. He was the “director” of the group. Glennon studies theatre at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. From blocking and choreography to pitch and inflection, he was always full of ideas.
This summer he plans to once again take his theatre background, combined with his 2015 BNV experience and make full fledge competitive poets of the newest and youngest team P.O.M.E. members. “All of them are new to performance poetry…. But I definitely think that we have some of the strongest pieces, words, and lines,” said Glennon. The irony rings true because Glennon was once the youngest member of the team. With his 16th birthday less than a month away Glennon expressed his slight disappointment with no longer being the freshman or “the token white kid.”
It’s the type of comment only Bryn Glennon would say. Glennon is a spunky kid with plenty of wit and sarcasm to match. On any given day you’ll probably find him in a sentimental graphic t-shirt and shorts. He is a big enough kid at heart to roll down a hill in public just for the heck of it, and mature enough to discuss how religious views of gay rights affect American politics. Glennon will make fun of you to show you he cares, and curse at inappropriate times only to catch himself and replace the word with “poopy”. His writing is fun loving and heartfelt. I cannot wait to see him continue to grow.