West Slam Poetry Club Succeeds, Benefits Students


Jalah Bates, Staff Reporter

When words connect and options are given to turn simple things into poetry when lives are falling apart or turns seem brighter. What do you do? Add a slam poetry club and participate in caucuses as well as school and individual competitions through Still Waters Collective.

Wauwatosa West has allowed the creative community to take a stance. Whether it be through the work of art, sound, and now poetry. The Still Waters Collective program has stepped foot into the school and begun to work with their young poets to construct sentences into life.

Milwaukee resident Dasha Kelly founded Still Waters Collective. The group began as an open mic night for poets at the Mecca nightclub in Milwaukee. By 2008, Dasha began being invited to speak at schools and other organizations. Still Waters began to focus on to the youth.

“The group began to grow weekly as an institutions that nurtured the community for over a decade,” according to the Still Waters Collective website.

Wauwatosa West’s 2016 graduate Thomas Leonard was the middle man in the introduction for West meeting the High School Slam League or HSSL.

“Thomas Leonard won the City Slam finals two years ago and was my first experience with the High School Slam League. I then brought Stillwaters to Tosa to do a assembly with Thomas and Khari Rodgers performing spoken word for the school to try and see if we had enough students to join. Last year we didn’t have enough, but this year we did so Black Student Union and Mr. Calarco sponsored our team in its’ first season,” said BSU advisor, Slam advisor and Special Education teacher Rebecca Kirchman.

Still Waters Collective group mentor and poet Marina Johnson helped the Wauwatosa West group improve their writing, providing ideas to write about, and by conducting workshops.

Throughout the 2017-2018 slam season there were accomplishments and lessons learned. It helped provide almost life changing moments for the students in slam.

One accomplishment for the year was definitely doing so well at our slam competitions even though it was our first year competing. Throughout the year, the majority of the poems people created were solo poems and it would have been very interesting to see all of our writing styles flow together for one giant piece,” said Wauwatosa West Senior Sophie Johnson.

Slam has impacted students in ways other extracurricular activities haven’t.  For many students it has become their favorite thing to do.

Slam is one of my favorite things to do ever. I will totally continue to do it. I may try to find some open mics around Milwaukee in the summer, among other things. It will be hard for me to stay off of the stage for a whole summer. But we have managed to accomplish a lot this year with our team,” said Wauwatosa West junior Olivia Keenan.

The Wauwatosa Slam League has been happy to have Still Waters Collective as apart of their school, it has helped them grow and achieve has writers. And with majority of the team being Juniors and Seniors they have put out a request to get more people to join and show off their writing skills and be open to performances as well as.

“Advice I would give to others considering slam is  to take a leap and try it out. If you like writing but you’re afraid of the performance aspect, the club can help you. The students in the club can help you, it was there first year and they did amazing, they put their souls into their writing and performances.  If you are the opposite though and like performing but aren’t confident in your writing, the club can help you with that too. When you meet with the slam club it is a safe haven, you can say what needs to be and share whatever, its a room full of people who are understanding.  And there’s also room for all different types of poets. You just have to be willing to take a chance and be vulnerable. You’ll be glad you did,” said Kirchman.