If it were a football team, the announcer in the press box might say something like, “These guys are tight. They’ve been playing together for a long time. They know what to expect of each other and what they are capable of.” That’s the way it is for PlayhouseSquare’s Slam U finalists — Cleveland’s National Youth Poetry Slam Team — who are headed to Chicago next week to compete in the annual Brave New Voices competition. Jonathan Lykes, a freshman at the University of Chicago, Eric Odum, a senior at the Cleveland School of the Arts, and Akeem Rollins, a member of the City Year Corps, are veterans from last year’s trip to the national youth poetry slam. And Lykes was on the team the previous year as well. Rounding out the 2009 lineup are Derick Holifield, a junior at CSA, Cyndii Johnson, a senior there, and Lee McKinstry, a senior from Westlake High School. They give a final performance before next week’s national competition at 7 p.m. in the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre in the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare (1375 Euclid Ave., 216.241.6000). Free. — Michael Gill
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