A year ago, a few writers and I tried something daring. We asked local teens to come out and read something they’d written to a live audience. It could be a poem, a confession, a chapter from a novel in progress, or a short story. Our only rules: Five minutes of reading, PG content only. We thought we’d have an intimate circle of intrepid readers, and we were cool with that. Well, our literary event, Teen Story Slam, WENT OFF! We packed a giant house wall to wall, on the night of the World Series no less. It was a historic outpouring of enthusiasm for the spoken word. Naturally, the writers begged us to do it again.With the support of Westside Pizza and the Kitsap Regional Library, we threw another Teen Story Slam and packed the house again. Local high school teacher (and playwright) Noah Barfield was a fabulous emcee. Parents, teachers, and adults lined the back of the restaurant, while every table was packed with teen writers and their friends. The peer support was phenomenal. The stories, poems, chapters and essays read were among the finest we’ve had. Around the room, tears were shed for poignant pieces about gender roles, the loss of love, and facing grief head-on. Conversely, there were comedians among our writers, earning cheers, hoots of laughter, and huge rounds of applause. It was incredible. Each time we present Teen Story Slam, our community of student writers elevates the event beyond our dreams, displaying talent, maturity, insight, and bravery.We allow each reader to sign his or her name impermanently on a whiteboard with a dry erase marker. Throughout the slam, teens can strike their name, nominate a friend, or move their name higher or lower on the list. With the encouragement of friends and the awesome vibes coming from the audience, a few who’d sworn they wouldn’t read pulled up stories on their phones and took to the mic for an impromptu reading. One made up a fantastic story on the spot, and others read twice! Westside Pizza offered half the receipts of the evening in support of our annual Teen Writing Camp Intensive in the summer. Thanks to manager Maureen and her team, 22 teens will attend writing camp next summer.As a teen writing instructor, I’m so thankful to each student for making this special event happen–again. It gives me a such a warm heart to see these young women and men choose to come out with their parents and friends and share their creativity.If you’re looking for a fun, community-positive way to raise funds, chat with me about how to host your own Story Slam!