Nelly Bess is a Jersey raised poet who believes in the power of the voice to cultivate radical change.Believing that we all are made up of necessary stories, she spends her time teaching others about the importance of using their voice and body as a source of activism. She is the two-time Grand Slam Champion of Montclair State University Slam team whose team has placed in the top ten for the last two years in the ACUI College Slam International Competition. She has featured at venues like the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, the Bowery, and has been published on SlamFind and Nylon Magazine. She has used her passion of restorative work through writing and has presented at conferences like Yeah That’s What She Said, The Black Girl Project Sisterhood Summit, and the Hot 97 radio podcast Street Soldiers.
As a teaching artist, Nelly believes in the power of art to educate and build stronger communities. In pursuit of this mission, she has created and facilitated writing programs in New Jersey like L.O.U.D (Living. Our. Ultimate. Dreams) and FreeWrite for young people to use their voices as change agents in their communities.
She is currently the co-coach for NJ's youth slam team.
Shelly Spinelli is a poet and DJ born and raised in Jersey. Her work is rooted in self love, intersectional feminism, surviving abuse as well as radical restoration.
She was a member of the 2017 Nuyorican Slam Team, placing top 20 in the world, a member of Montclair State University's 2016 Slam Team and co-coached Montclair State University, one of the winning teams, at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in 2017. She is currently the co-coach for NJ's youth slam team.
After graduating from Montclair State University in January of 2017. She mentors young people all around New York and New Jersey creating space, taking up space unapologetically to speak their truth and learning more about how to be their best and liberated selves. Her work as a teaching artist has allowed her to co-facilitate a literacy program, L.O.U.D. (Living Our Ultimate Dreams), creating a safe and affirming space for teens in New Jersey as well as co facilitate The Black Girl Project Sisterhood Summit and Yeah That's What She Said workshop.
Poetry, to her, is meant to awaken and inspire every soul that comes in contact with it.
Placed 4th in the world at International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, Brave New Voices
Honored by Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark
Audre Lorde Award at Seton Hall University
Ubuntu Awards: Top 30 Under 30
Featured at Montclair State University's Queering Sexy B(l)ack: Queer Youth and Pedagogies of Sexual Agency
Featured at Newark Arts Festival