Earth Day 2022 on April 22 was marked by some 180 people at the Water Rocks! Earth Day Poetry Slam held at Alluvial Brewing in Ames, Iowa. The event was part of the ongoing 10th anniversary celebration of the Water Rocks mission to bring water quality and conservation education to young people in Iowa.
Welcoming the crowd, Jacqueline Comito, Executive Director of Water Rocks, remarked that Water Rocks had used music and art in their programming for their first 10 years, and the team looked forward to expanding that with the kind of performance poetic artworks about to be displayed. .
Kaleb (KUB) Stevens, a community-focused arts professional and intern at Water Rocks, was emcee for the poetry slam and provided the audience with a sample poem – and a tutorial on the rules and proper etiquette slam for those new to stage poetry.
In the first round of the slam, eight Iowa-based artists performed an original poem themed “My Relationship with a Body of Water.” The pieces reflected each poet’s personal ideas, including crossing oceans, swimming in storage tanks, paddling the rivers of Iowa, being in and around water, and the qualities of the water we consume.
“The crowd response to these performances has been incredible,” said Water Rocks manager Ann Staudt. “Each poet has uniquely captured the essence and importance of water, and through their words and delivery conveyed the same message that we try to convey through our education and outreach activities. Water Rocks – water is everywhere, and everyone is responsible for how we use and protect it.”
For Round 2, five poets were challenged with the theme “Water connects us all”. One contestant discussed the permanence of water on earth through a connection to dinosaurs, while others incorporated their feelings about diversity, society, and caring for one another.
The last round of the slam brought three artists back on stage to talk about the topic “The future of our world in the face of climate change”. The finalists each brought passion and energy to their poems, driving the audience to their feet and making the task of selecting a winner a real challenge for the judging panel.
The finalists were: Summer Awad, poet, playwright, Palestinian-American essayist and graduate student at Iowa State University; DK (DeAn Kelly), Des Moines, Iowa-based hip-hop influencer and mentor, poet, musician, performer and host of positive hip-hop music events; and Dallas Whitefield, a Western Governors University student who is active in the Ames and Des Moines poetry scenes and is working on his first poetry book.
The Des Moines DK poet took top honors with an impassioned appeal about the state of the Earth and a dark future caused by humans. Highlighting each person’s impact, he said, “We haven’t met, but your actions have affected my life”, and concluded with a dire warning: “This is the last flower of fate and the last hour of humanity.
Awad came second with her poem, which depicts the current state of human consumption and contempt. She encouraged people to turn to those who give more respect to nature and simplicity, saying, “Maybe to stop our loss is to learn from defeat. In conclusion, she issued a challenge: “What are we going to choose to learn? »
Rounding out the first three, Whitefield called for charging people and politicians who disregard the cost of our ways of life, noting: “Progress has a cost that someone has to pay. He also painted a startling picture with “Know that this place that sustains our lives is on life support.”
A reel of poetry slam performance highlights can be found at waterrocks.org/poetry.
Next to celebrate 10 years of Water Rocks
The world premiere of “Water Rocks: The Musical,” at Ames City Auditorium, is scheduled for June 16 with a repeat performance on June 23. Timetable information is available at waterrocks.org.
Stevenson is a Visual Outreach Specialist and Conservation Educator with Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.