Seattle's Youth Speaks holds its Grand Slam poetry competition May 18 to choose a team to represent at the national competition, called Brave New Voices.

Selected lines of poetry from each of the Youth Speaks 12 slam finalists:

“When we touched my hands were forests”

— Conor Anderson, 19, Occidental College

“I paste grass clipping from the lawn into my notebook to encourage my dreams to grow”

— Arianne Bergman, 16, Lakeside School

“I want to go back to when sorry was simple /

Now my stutter only comes out during apologies /

Knowing the most I can say won’t change anything /

I’m sorry”

— Susy Sobel, 17, Garfield High School

“This is my apology to anyone who says I can’t be a poet, because I don’t know how to spell. Well, you’re wrong. Not only do I write, I also spit. And I spit nothing but fire, so call yourself cremated.”

— Roseanne McAleese, 18, Garfield High School

“They wrote the constitution on our retinas, so nobody can ask us what we saw in ink quills made from vocal chords to stop our oral histories.”

— Dakota Alcantara-Camacho, 16, Mercer Island High School

“He told me a shotgun going off in his arm feels like watching a bully flinch from spit and fist.”

— Corbin Bugni, 17, Shorecrest High School

“The us, right now, all right here, let me know that my knees be raw enough to leap a light-year /

Raw knee, been cooked enough to stare down a nightmare /

I’m right here”

— Ronnie Reynolds, 19, Seattle Central Community College

“God bless Huey and Eldridge we are revealing the bridge from here to the benevolent and our brethren’s eyes to the heavens will carve Adonai into relevance.”

— Michael Maidan, 18, Seattle Central Community College

“womping willow fighting realms of reality /

imagination stomp the ground /

silence me please /

prevent me from worlds kids draw their paintings /

finger paintings blue /

cave paintings spark building blocks future to present /

wrapping around the now of things

— Mikeya Jackson-Harper, 18, Bellevue Community College

“I want to fall in love with a carpenter, one with rough-hewn hands, and hair the color of new sawdust.”

— Clare Lilliston, 18, Ingram High School

“There stood, the present, past, prospect and the soul, immersed within the 4 shadows of now, and the foreshadows of my forever, I stumbled in the desolate mansion of my manhood. Drunk off the wind, tiptoing in the abyss, I sleepwalked through the hollow halls of hedonism.”

— Minilik Yewondwossen, 17, Center School

“I made like, 5 million copies of my soul yesterday and handed them to passers-by, hoping that it would provide enough warmth for all of us to crawl under or maybe some bread to buy or maybe it would make someone full of love, but everyone keeps walking around this mess of a town with their faces looking like thousands of ‘I’m sorry’s’ “

— Mary Lambert, 18, Cornish College of the Arts

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825

or mliu@seattletimes.com