Joseph Green is a NoVA-based poet who has been writing and performing for more than a decade. He started out in the arts when he majored in theater at Virginia Commonwealth University but later changed his focus to poetry. Today, he is sharing his passion for poetry and the arts with the youth of NoVA through after-school programs and open mic events.
“I fell in love with poetry because it allowed you to express yourself and get a lot off of your chest,” Green says. Green notes that poetry serves as a way for writers to address personal struggles, and he co-founded PoetryN.O.W. to help kids express their emotions without fear of judgment.
After traveling with five poetry slam teams, Green settled back in Virginia, where he became a speech and debate teacher at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria. “I was shocked that there were no established youth poetry clubs in Virginia,” he says.
He then teamed up with Brian Hannon, an English teacher at Hayfield, and together they founded PoetryN.O.W. in 2011. The program began as Hayfield’s speech and debate team but has since expanded to include other creative arts mediums and has spread to more than 16 schools in Northern Virginia. “We wanted to create a space for students to come share their talents,” Green says. “We wanted to motivate kids to get off the internet and come meet each other in person because they are not alone.”
PoetryN.O.W. began hosting youth open mics at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington so kids from all over Virginia could perform and grow in their writing skills. “Anyone with a talent can come and share,” Green says. “Whether they sing, act, tell jokes or recite poetry, they should know that they are not alone.”
In 2016, PoetryN.O.W. merged with Split This Rock in D.C., and Green is now the organization’s youth programs coordinator. He also continues to create after-school programs and host open mic nights across the DMV.
The youth open mics are held at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington every second Sunday of the month. They are also hosted every third Saturday of the month at the Busboys and Poets on Fifth and K streets in D.C. The next one is Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. at the D.C. location.