“You never forget about the cameras,” says Carolyn Blessing, one of our teen-age Ann Arbor poets featured in a recent HBO series on the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam in Washington D.C.

While all agree that the camera crews were respectful, the search for dramatic backstories was ever present. Blessing’s segment, for instance, centered almost exclusively on an attempted kidnapping when she was twelve years old. For Ben Alfaro, the show focused on his search for his father, who had left the family. The crew followed him everywhere hoping for a dramatic reunion, which never happened. “Many of the scenes were staged,” Alfaro complains.

Still, he says, the young poets knew what they were getting into: “Once you sign that release, they can do anything they want.”