From Shy Girl to Poetry Slam Champion
Get to Know the 2017 NCCWSL Women of Distinction
Name: Crystal Valentine
Occupation: Author and Poet
Education: Bachelor of Arts, New York University
Crystal Valentine was a quiet kid, once describing her younger self as “painfully shy.” But now she is sharing her words for the world to hear.
Inspired by spring’s blooming flowers, Valentine wrote her first poem when she was in grade school. At 13, the Bronx native started reading her poetry to others and realized she could tell stories that resonated with people. Eventually she started performing slam poetry with Urban Word NYC, addressing topics related to social injustice, racism, and sexism.
Performing gave her the courage to share her own experiences, from the prejudice she faced to the violence and gentrification in the diverse neighborhood where she grew up. In 2015 she was named New York City Youth Poet Laureate in recognition of her advocacy through poetry, motivating young people to vote and make a difference in their local communities.
A recent graduate of New York University, Valentine is the current three-time Grand Slam Champion of the university’s poetry slam team. She is also the two-time winner of the Association of College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, a competition between college students from poetry slam programs. In 2016, Glamour magazine honored her as one of their College Women of the Year.
Between studying and performing, Valentine recently wrote her first book, Not Everything Is a Eulogy, a collection of her poems. She is the ninth-ranked woman poet in the world by the Women of the World Poetry Slam.
Watch Crystal Valentine perform her poem “Black Privilege” at the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational below: