I have already written about YouthSpeaks Seattle and how impressed I was by the young performers. I was also impressed by the variety, depth, and intensity of their topics and with the fact that they spoke seriously and reflectively about subjects as varying as crushes, family, rape, sex, sickness, death, race, and culture. The organizers of the show seemed to trust the young people to perform what they felt, to write their experiences and truths, to express their emotions. The poems were raw, beautiful, and honest. Nothing was left untouched. I saw youth who were free to use the words that they saw fit, who were not afraid of language's power. There was some profanity, but not to the point of excess. Upon returning to Baltimore, I hung an installation at the Wide Angle Youth Media Festival. I asked the organizers if they censored work or profanity, especially in their poetry event. They said that they do ask their young people to think of a more creative way to say what they need to say when they use a curse word. I wonder at this. I understand not wanting excessive profanity in youth work, which young people sometimes have a tendency toward, but isn't this tendency spurred by the fact that children are always being told not to curse. It becomes something powerful and when they get to an age where they realize that they do have the power to choose whether or not to use profanity, choosing cursing makes them feel powerful. I cursed like a sailor in middle school. I use it sparingly now and am turned off by adults that cuss excessively, but I do think that it is useful to add emphasis. So would young people curse less if it were not such a big deal? I think that they do use their words appropriately and efficiently when they have mentors and role models that do so. It is a matter of consistence and practice though. YouthSpeaks Seattle seems to have their programming established so that youth have the consistent guidance necessary to become great writers. Weekly writing groups and a monthly poetry slam lead up to the grand slam finale I attended. Wide Angle is a bit different. They have a core group of students that works with them to all year to plan their festival and events, but many festival submissions come from all over Baltimore City. Their censoring makes sense in this format; they do not work directly with all of the students that are being given space in the festival so they do not know how serious or thoughtful a decision a youth made to use profanity. Young people do need the freedom to choose their words though. I think excessive cursing is part of development, a rebellion against constraints, and if it is only by passing through this stage that youth achieve the growth necessary to reach true freedom in language, then they must pass through this stage to use their words (even profanity) responsibly.