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Poetry group hopes missed deadline doesn’t slam door on dream

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A missed deadline may mean a missed dream for some students. Local poetry slam group 'Infinite Voices,' from Paseo Academy, just started competition in poetry slams this year.

But after winning a trip to Philadelphia and a chance to compete against the best, they found out the local sponsor missed the deadline, which means they may not get to compete in the international competition.

“When we talk about some of these topics, people be like, 'whoa, like are they talking about that?' It's like yea, we talking about that,” said group member MonCherie Mack.

This group of five teenagers stepped on stage this year for the first time together.

“Slam competitions is the best thing that ever happened to me in my life,” said group member Unique Hughley.

“It made us feeling amazing,” said Taiann Holman, one of the group winners.

After months of preparation, their hard work came down to one night.

“It’s not just like, 'oh you get a pen and paper and you write.' It’s not that for us. It’s researching, it's reading, and it's finding out new things,” said Mack.

“We kind of had it in the bag,” Holman said.

As finalists in the American Jazz Museum's "Louder than a Bomb" competition, they performed their poem about death row. It was enough to propel them past 12 teams from all over the metro.

But their elation at winning the grand prize, a trip to Philadelphia and a spot in the Brave New Voices international competition, was short-lived.

Glenn North, coach of Kansas City’s youth poetry slam team and the former education manager for the local competition sponsor, the American Jazz Museum, said he missed the registration deadline.

“It’s like putting a whale in water and telling him not to swim. Cause poetry is what we nourish,” said North.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I’m still hoping that things will work out. I’m certainly not giving up on the possibility that the team from Paseo will have the opportunity to compete. Because they deserve to compete,” North said.

Now the group is fighting to have their voices heard.

“It makes us think like, we're working hard and no one is appreciating us,” Mack said.

“I’m hurt because we really don’t have anyone to blame and we really want this. Like this is a dream for us,” said Hughley

“It would just be sad if an administrative glitch or communication or however you want to call it, you know, would rob them of that opportunity. I understand the position of the festival organizers. I think the work that’s being done with youth speaks which organizes the brave new voices poetry festival is some of the most outstanding youth advocacy work that I’ve ever had an opportunity to be a part of,” North said.

North says the group will still travel to Philadelphia in July. As of right now, they and 13 other teams are on a waiting list for a chance to compete.

North is hopeful their chance is not lost.

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