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Festival Goal


Festival Goal

Pacific Tongues Interscholastic Slam Poetry Festival 2017

This year Pacific Tongues Youth Speaks Hawai'i celebrates 12 years of being a non-profit organization. Our mission has always been to provide a safe and central location in the Hawaiian Islands to facilitate a cross-cultural exchange within Pacific influenced populations through spoken arts education. As we embark on going onto our 12th year we have reflected and seek to grow/improve. We have been successful in empowering youth voices in the Pacific but we recognize that our work as an organization must go beyond the words our poets share. Our goal in improving has been to indigenize all aspect of what a 'poetry slam' can and should be for youth in the Pacific. For youth to be able to explore their identities, their stories, their roles as voices in the Pacific and what that means on various levels. From the land we share our stories on to the food we put into our bodies, we hope that our youth can have an elevated understanding of their roles as people in the Pacific through our collaboration with the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Much of the Pacific Tongues community is embedded with the UH manoa system, from faculty to alumni and even current undergraduate and graduate level students. Our three day festival goal is to allow students to work in the Lo'i, to attend artistic workshops from Pacific artists and scholars, and to give them a larger platform to have their voices heard.


WEdnesday, march 8th, 2017

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Festival Guide

The official guide to the 2017 Interscholastic Poetry Festival in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Feel free to scroll through these e-book pages for basic festival information.

Festival Guide

The official guide to the 2017 Interscholastic Poetry Festival in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Feel free to scroll through these e-book pages for basic festival information.

Youth Speaks-55.jpg

Guest Facilitators

The guest facilitators for the 2017 Interscholastic Poetry Festival are all highly dedicated Pacific educators, artists, and organizers

Guest Facilitators

The guest facilitators for the 2017 Interscholastic Poetry Festival are all highly dedicated Pacific educators, artists, and organizers

Grace Taylor

Grace Taylor is a Aotearoa born and bred poet of Samoan and English heritage. She has been performing, producing, teaching in the spoken word world for the last 7 years. Co-Creator of the first youth poetry slam in Aotearoa RISING VOICES YOUTH POETRY MOVEMENT. Her first collection of poetry AFAKASI SPEAKS published by Ala Press in 2013. Directed her first poetry theatre show SKIN in 2014 and debut as a playwright in her current poetry theatre show MY OWN DARLING. Recipent of the Creative New Zealand Emerging Pacific Artist Award 2014.

Jonathan "Intrepid" Clarke Sypert

Jonathan Clarke Sypert teaches singing, dancing, acting, poetry, rap and music production for a variety of organizations including Henry J. Kaiser High School, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, PALS/PLACES on the Waianae Coast, The Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program at Punahou School, STEPS to Success with Ohana Komputer, and Pacific Tongues. Jonathan uses his talents and connections to build partnerships with charities and organizations that are entrenched in the front lines of social causes and issues. In 2017 Jonathan will be involved with the Sex Abuse Treatment center of Honolulu and Honolulu Theatre for Youth for the respect 2.0 interscholastic rally; pacific tongues' interscholastic poetry workshops; organize entertainment for events to benefit the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children; will host a YouTube channel to reveal "What's Poppin" in the culture and arts of the Aloha State; and will co-design an online marketing strategy for FASD Communities, a not-for-profit organization that is laying the foundation for a network of rehabilitative residencies for adults afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Jahra Rager

womanly colour.

an emerging/ contemporary dancer. choreographer.

poet. writer.

creative vessel

Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala is a contemporary dancer, choreographer and spoken word artist. Born and raised in Aotearoa, New Zealand. She has roots in many places around the world, but her pacific

heritage comes from the islands of Fiji (Macuata/Ba).

In 2009, she participated in Black Grace's Urban Youth Movement as a leading female performer. She was then invited to take part in an internship with the company, training, rehearsing and, learning repertoire. In 2010, Jahra began her formal training at Unitec. She graduated after 3 years of study with a Bachelor in Performing and Screen Arts, majoring in Contemporary dance.

Aside from graduating in 2010, Jahra also began to make her mark on the NZ Poetry scene. She competed in the acclaimed Poetry Idol Slam Competition. She placed second and also represented Auckland in Wellington at the National Poetry Slam. Since graduating Jahra has collaborated and performed for artists such as Sarah Foster-Sproull (Orchids), Grace Woollett (MOTHER/JAW), Thomas Fonua (Malaga), MAU Company/Lemi Ponifasio (I AM), and Grace Taylor (Rising Voices Movement).

Jahra's work (poetry & dance) has taken her to many parts of the world including The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. Also creating opportunities where she has collaborated with an array of artists extensively. In 2014, Jahra travelled to Banff to take part in the internationally acclaimed Indigenous Dance Residency. She was also a part of 'Chewing Your Ears' a spoken word show that was picked up by the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Jahra is known for her powerful performances, ancient edge, and socially provocative nature. Her creative works are interdisciplinary, solo and group theatre dance works. Jahras choreographies and poetic pieces are generally interdisciplinary works based on political and social events, specifically those surrounding race and gender movements and dislocated cultural identity. She explores the space between contemporary dance and live poetry, whilst incorporating other mediums. Her work serves as a platform to create open discussions on the connections with historical events.

Jahra has choreographed and co-choreographed many works, including her latest work
MOTHER/JAW. MOTHER/JAW premiered to a sold-out four night season at The Basement Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand. At the Fringe Awards, MOTHER/JAW was awarded five out of ten awards, including the ‘Auckland Live Development Award’ which secures a performance season at the Herald Theatre in Aotea Centre, to be shown in 2016.



Kathy JetNil-Kijiner

 Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner is a Marshallese poet and activist. Her writing highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change. Bearing witness at the front lines of various activist movements inspires her work and has propelled her poetry onto international stages. She has performed her poetry in front of audiences ranging from elementary school students to most recently over a hundred world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit, where she performed a poem to her daughter, "Dear Matafele Peinam". Currently she lives and works in the Marshall Islands, where she teaches Pacific studies courses full time at the College of the Marshall Islands. She is also Co-Director of the youth environmentalist non-profit Jo-Jikum, which empowers youth by educating them on the importance of environmentalism and mobilizing them to work toward solutions for environmentalist issues. Check out their website: And follow her blog for regular posts and poetry:


Lyz Soto is Co-founder of Pacific Tongues and between 2008 and 2012 she was the Executive Director of Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi. She has worked as the head coach of the Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi Slam Team from 2008 until 2012 and she is currently working towards a PhD at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where she also teaches English. She has performed in Hawaiʻi and across the continental United States. She has also had the honor of traveling with Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi alumni to Aotearoa, where she had the great pleasure of performing with the South Auckland Poets Collective. Her chapbook, Eulogies, was published in 2010 by TinFish Press.


Travis T

TravisT (Travis Kaulula'au Thompson): Co-Founder, since 2005. As a Pacific Islander, scholar, worker, activist, poet, mentor, and organizer with over 15 years of experience in the Honolulu spoken word poetry community, TravisT is also a co-founder of the award-winning local youth literacy non-profit known as Youth Speaks Hawaii (as seen on HBO). As a poet, he is an eight time member of the HI-slam team; the 2007 HI-slam Champ, the 2003 Red Shark Slam Jam People's Champ; and has performed his poetry on dozens of stages across the nation. He's been featured on NPR, WBAI, Pacifica, HPR, KTUH, & Olelo TV. He released a cd "The TrapperKeeperT Files" in 2007 & authored two chapbooks "Serving LIFE SENTENCES" (2003), & "the Politics of Lips" (2004). As an activist, mentor and organizer he co-founded Youth Speaks Hawaii in 2005; co-hosted "Words @ Ward Rafters", "re:VERSES", "2nd Saturdays", the "Hawaii Theatre Slam"; taught Creative Writing at Palama Settlement's ICTP and the Kapolei Juvenile Detention Center; and has has visited countless classrooms across O'ahu. He is currently pursuing his MA in Pacific Island Studies at UH Manoa,
and is a part-time raw-vegan chef.

Decolonizing Slam//New Slam Rules

Decolonizing Slam//New Slam Rules

Pacific Tongues has begun the process of decolonizing slam.
What does that mean, you ask?
Spoken Word has always been rooted in the oral traditions of Pacific culture.
The "Slam" competition format was created in a Western construct.

As Pacific Tongues grew, we began to ask, "what does a poetry slam look like in Oceania?"
Slam rules tell us to have no music, no props, no "costumes", to limit words to 3mins.
In some spaces, Pacific poets have even gotten deducted points for speaking their native languages.

We want poets to embrace their culture, language, to embrace props and costumes and music, and extend the words to 5mins. We want to see young voice push spoken word beyond its limits as an art form, as a way to connect/reconnect with culture, as a way to reclaim and make this idea of "slam" our own in Oceania.



1. Tournament style.
Before the slam, teams will pull a number.
There will be pairs of each number in a hat.
(ex. each paper in the hat will be labeled as 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, ect ect)
-The teams that pull the same number will determine the order and who they will be slamming against in a round.
(ex. Kaiser pulls 1A & Farrington pulls 1B. 
They will be going head to head in that order. Which leads us to rounds)

2. Rounds
In Each round 2 teams will slam against one another.
Ex. Round 1: Team 1A (Kaiser) vs. Team 1B (Farrington)
-Kaiser will perform a poem, followed imediately byFarrington.
-The 5 judges then throw up a color/letter card for the poem they prefer.
Ex. 2 Judges throw up Cards that say A (which indicates they vote for Kaiser)
3 judges throw up Cards that say B (Which indicates they vote for Farrington)
Farrington Wins the round & Kaiser is eliminated from the slam.

The team with the more letter/color cards counted wins the round and moves onto the next round.
The slam continues in tournament bracket style until there is only 1 team left.


Color/Letter card:
-5 judges
-Each Judge has 2 Cards. One that says A. One that says B.
Judges will throw up a letter card after every bout of poets perform.
-*(Judges MAY throw up both cards but we STRONGLY suggest NOT to do so.)

Example of the Tournament bracket Style

Example of the Tournament bracket Style


Time lime:
5mins. 10 sec grace period. Poets do not need to use the whole 5mins.
If poems go beyond 5mins 10secs, poets will be deducted 1 color card per 10 secs.

Poets allowed on stage per poem:
Teams are allowed to have as many bodies on a team piece as they want BUT there will only be 4 microphones available to all teams.

-The use of props
-music BUT please know that to hook music up to a sound system is not available ( this rule is more specifically for the Doris Duke Theatre where the Team Slam is held on 03/26/17)
-Poets are allowed to bring their own instruments
-Poets CAN cover poems BUT they MUST acknowledge and announce it before the poem begins.

-Repeating poems

How Many Poems Should I Bring To a Slam?
- To be safe, each poet or team should bring 4 - 6 poems.