Librarians team with Woosh Kinaadeiyí for Friday's Back to School Poetry Slam

This month, Woosh Kinaadeiyí poetry slam has teamed up with librarians at local middle and high schools to offer an opportunity for Juneau’s young poets to share their work with their peers and the larger community. A Back to School poetry slam will be held at the Thunder Mountain High School Library from 6-9 p.m.

Floyd Dryden Middle School Librarian Pat McLear said she isn’t sure what will happen at the slam, but she has an idea of what to expect: Enthusiasm. Lots of positive energy. Maybe even some dancing.

This was the scene during the last student slam she attended, led by Woosh Kinaadeiyí president Christy NaMee Eriksen. Eriksen worked as an artist in the schools in two Floyd Dryden classrooms last year, finishing up her residency with an all-school slam. McLear said the event, held in the library, was hugely successful, spurring her desire to make it happen again.

“Gosh, the kids had a great time,” McLear said. “It was very high energy, very positive.”

McLear said she was especially struck by the level of participation Eriksen was able to encourage from the kids -- from those who helped decorate and make signs to the judges to those who read poems.

“There are some students you expect to see up there because of their past behaviors and past performances and other things. But what was wonderful was the kids who you thought, ‘I don’t believe that student is up there!’ That was wonderful. They rose to the occasion and they shone brightly.”

McLear was inspired to try to get another slam planned, working with Woosh Kinaadeiyí to make it happen and eventually settling on a Back to School theme, a time traditionally focused on building community. Soon the idea expanded to include high school students as well.

“Knowing that the 8th graders that were here (for the last school slam) were going to the high school, it made sense to follow them, and Raandi Miller at Thunder Mountain jumped right in and said she’d be happy to host at Thunder’s library.”

Also enthusiastic was Kristin Garot, new principal at Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School and Montessori Borealis, and Barb Kreher, the librarian at JDHS, who were later joined by Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School’s Debbie Hull and Juneau Community Charter School’s Sheila Keller and Renee Drummond.

Though student focused, the event isn’t solely for students; poets and performers of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate in the slam and the open mic that precedes it.

Normally, Woosh Kinaadeiyí slams are held on the third Friday of every month, at a different location. This month’s slam was moved to the fourth Friday to coincide with the first week of school.

The free event runs from 6-9 p.m. and will be hosted by Jacque Boucher and Kate Laster. Sign up to read at 5:30 p.m.

Woosh Kinaadeiyí is a local nonprofit committed to diversity, inclusive community, and empowering voice.

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