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The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

The Student News Site of Walnut Hills High School

The Chatterbox

Verses lead to victory

Every year, the poetry slam team holds auditions for new members to join. The number selected for  the team varies from year to year depending on how many people are needed for competitions.
Selby Lin
Every year, the poetry slam team holds auditions for new members to join. The number selected for the team varies from year to year depending on how many people are needed for competitions.

The muffled voices of poets carries through the air. Their powerful words echos through the silent room. This is the poetry slam team.

“We write and perform our own original poems and we have two competitions every year,” Nola Stowe, ‘24, a team member for the past six years, said. “They’re with other schools from around Cincinnati. We perform our poetry, and the poems get scored in the moment by judges. And then, at the end of the slam, they tally up all the scores and pick the top three or top five to receive a prize.” 

Stowe has been interested in slam poetry for many years and has been a dedicated team member since her 7th-grade year. In 2022, she was selected to be the Youth Poet Laureate of Cincinnati.

“I had gotten into poetry through an organization here in Cincinnati called Women Writing for Change,” Stowe said. “I got into doing their summer camps and that introduced me to poetry, and also introduced me specifically to spoken word poetry. And so I would just watch all these YouTube videos of people performing spoken word poems. And then I found out through a friend, who was a year ahead of me, that Walnut had a poetry slam team. I was like ‘I have to audition for this’ and in seventh grade, I went in, and I got [on the team] and it’s been a great experience.”

The poets meet in coach Kyle Scudder’s room during at least one of their weekly practices. This helps them prepare for their competitions. Performing their poems at competitions can be especially scary, because they are often about very vulnerable, personal topics or important societal issues.

“It takes a lot of guts because they’re not only sharing their own work, but they have to perform it, and memorize it,” Scudder said. “[In addition] many of them write personal poetry about themselves. I’m always impressed with how honest they can be.”

Despite how scary performing such personal work can be, sharing these poems with each other has helped to build a community and bring many people together.  

“Slams are a really good time, and everyone is super supportive,” Stowe said. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people through poetry slam, and they’ve made me a better writer. It’s been a wonderful experience and that’s because of how supportive everyone is.”

The idea for the poetry slam team came from the former assistant principal, Dr. Rashida Savage. 

“It started with Elements, a Cincinnati hip-hop community organization,” Scudder said. “They were the first sponsor [of the competition], so they recruited schools. [Savage] came to me, our assistant principal at the time, probably because I taught Time to Speak, and [asked if I] would be interested in coaching the slam team for the first time.”

That was in 2014, and now the poetry slam team is celebrating their tenth anniversary at WHHS as a highly successful team. They have consistently placed 1st or 2nd in their competitions, and many members of the team typically qualify for the second round of the competition.

“I think anyone can learn and anyone can do it,” Stowe said. “I think if you’re writing about something that inspires you and that is important to you, then you’re going to do great.”

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About the Contributor
Selby Lin
Selby Lin, Section Editor of Fine Arts
In her first year as a Chatterbox staff member, Selby Lin is very excited to work as a Fine Arts Section Editor. She is very passionate about fine arts and is excited to cover all fine arts from theater, to visual arts, and music. Her goal for this year is to increase student interest in fine arts through her writing. While Lin currently doesn't have any journalism experience, she is very excited for this amazing opportunity and looks forward to learning about the Chatterbox. Some of her extracurriculars include taekwondo, being a member of a FLL (First Lego League) robotics team, as well as a member of WHHS Orchestra Program. Other things Lin loves to do in her free-time are hiking with her family and reading.  Lin loves animals and hopes to study veterinary medicine at college and become a small animal internist.
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