The largest event of its kind in the country, competition celebrates National Poetry Month and features over 500 youth poets from the Bay Area this April and MaySAN FRANCISCO, April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Youth Speaks, the country's leading nonprofit presenter of spoken word performance, education and youth development programs, will present the 17 th annual Youth SpeaksTeen Poetry Slam, a dynamic, tournament-style competition that brings together more than 500 youth poets from throughout the Bay Area. Founded in San Francisco in 1996, Youth Speaks hosted the first-ever teen poetry slam in the country the following year and it remains the largest, most anticipated event of its kind. Open to any youth aged 13-19, the annual slam (a poetry writing and performance competition with Olympic-style scoring) features hundreds of young writers from throughout the Bay Area and Northern California celebrating youth voice, social activism, literacy and lyricism. It attracts some 10,000 audience members throughout a series of preliminary bouts, semi-finals and The Grand Slam Finals of the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam. The 2013 Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam takes place during the month of April, which is also National Poetry Month, and features three back-to-back weekends of slams beginning on April 12 with a final, Grand Slam event in May. The eight preliminary bouts will be held at various community venues in San Francisco and the East Bay such as 826 Valencia, Mama Art Cafe, the Subterranean Art House in Berkeley, RYSE Center in Richmond, and ProArts Gallery in Oakland. The winners of those preliminary slams will participate in four semi-finals, resulting in 16 finalists that will battle it out in the Grand Slam Finals on Saturday, May 11, at 7 p.m. at the 1,800-seat Nourse Theatre in San Francisco. The six winners of the Grand Slam Finals will go on to represent the Bay Area in the Youth Speaks Brave New Voices Festival, August 6-11 in Chicago, where teams from all over the world are invited to participate in a weeklong, intensive series of workshops, poetry slams and get-togethers where they can exchange art and viewpoints and their mentors can exchange pedagogy and best practices. The Grand Slam Finals historically sell out with a standing-room-only capacity crowd. Proceeds from benefit Youth Speaks' Bay Area youth education programs and aid in subsidizing after-school and in-school poetry workshops for more than 15,000 teenagers across the greater Bay Area.