Tama Brisbane is the founder and director (along with her husband Aaron) of WOW, Inc., a nonprofit, slam poetry collective. With Our Words trains young writers and creates performance opportunities for them. Since 2004, Brisbane has made WOW Stockton’s and the Central Valley’s foremost presenter of youth development and leadership programs through literary and performing arts. She has created safe spaces for young people to express themselves through written and spoken word and provided opportunities for at-risk youth to connect the dots between literacy, critical thinking, social action and community results.

    Stockton-based With Our Words, Inc., describes itself as “a nontraditional delivery of academic standards and social-activism opportunities.” At any one time, there are 50 to 75 young people involved. Since starting in 2004, it has broadened its reach:

    • Youth Poetry Collective: Young people who write, perform, organize, mentor and work to change the artistic and educational landscape of Stockton.

    • All-City Poetry Slam: More than 300 students 13 to 19 have “workshopped, written and spit” their way onto Stockton’s youth slam teams.

    • one.Poetry: An enrichment program operating at one.Charter for Visual & Performing Arts.

    • Poetry Book Camp: A free Saturday workshop series.

    • Hip Hop, You Don’t Stop Reading: Promotes literacy through live performances and a book give-away at under-performing elementary schools. Nearly 30,000 books have been donated since 2011.

    • We Rock Green Mics: Program promotes environmental awareness, justice and stewardship through the arts.

    • Dream Out Loud: Annual community theater event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    • WOW Performances: Provides speakers, spoken-word artists and keynote addresses for local and regional events, conferences and workshops.