Earth Day event featuring slam poetry, unique perspective on water

Earth Day 2022 on April 22 is marked by about 180 people at Water Rocks! The Earth Day Poetry Slam is held at Alluvial Brewing in Ames, Iowa. The event is part of the 10-year celebration of Water Rocks’ mission to bring water quality and conservation education to Iowa’s youth.

Welcoming the audience, Jacqueline Comito, executive director of Water Rocks, said that Water Rocks had used music and art in its program for the first 10 years, and the team wanted to develop it with the type of performance poetry art it would present. .

Kaleb (KUB) Stevens, a community-focused arts professional and intern at Water Rocks, hosts slam poetry and provides audiences with sample poetry — and tutorials on proper slam rules and etiquette for those new to scene poetry.

Round 1

In round 1 of the slam, eight Iowa-based artists performed an original poem on the theme “My Relationship with the Body of Water.” The pieces reflect the personal insights of each poet, including crossing oceans, swimming in supply tanks, paddling down the Iowa river, being in and around water, and the life-giving quality of the water we consume.

COMPETITION: Summer Awad, Palestinian-American poet, playwright, essayist, and Iowa State University graduate student, came in second with poetry about human consumption.

“The audience response to this show has been incredible,” said Ann Staudt, director of Water Rocks. “Each poet uniquely captures the essence and importance of water, and through their words and delivery they carry the same message that we try to convey through our Water Rocks educational and outreach activities — water is everywhere, and everyone is responsible for the way we live. we use and protect it.”

For Round 2, five poets were challenged on the theme “Water Connects Us All.” One competitor discusses the eternity of water on earth through relationships with dinosaurs, while the other includes their feelings about diversity, community, and caring and about one another.

Last round

The slam finale brought three performers back on stage to speak on the topic “The Future of Our World Amid Climate Change.” Each of the finalists brought passion and energy to their poems, kept the audience on their feet and made the task of selecting the winner a real challenge for the judging panel.

The finalists were: Summer Awad, a poet, playwright, essayist, and Iowa State University graduate student; DK (DeAn Kelly), Des Moines, Iowa-based hip-hop influencer and mentor, positive hip-hop poet, musician, performer, and host; and Dallas Whitefield, a student at Governors West University who was active in the poetry scene of Ames and Des Moines and is working on his first poetry collection.

Dallas Whitefield, a student at Governors West University

POETRY: Dallas Whitefield, a student at Governors West University who was active in the Ames and Des Moines poetry scene and is working on his first poetry collection, came third in the competition.

Poet Des Moines DK takes home top honors with his fiery appeal about the condition of Earth and the bleak future human-caused for. Pointing to everyone’s impact, he said, “We haven’t met, but your actions affected my life,” and concluded with a chilling warning: “This is the last flower of destiny and the last hour of mankind.”

Awad came in second with his poetry, which describes the current state of human consumption and neglect. He encouraged people to look to those with a greater respect for nature and simplicity, saying, “Perhaps stopping our destruction is learning from the undone.” In closing, he challenged with, “What will we choose to study?”

Completing the top three, Whitefield calls out to people and politicians who don’t take into account the costs of our lifestyle, noting, “Progress comes at a cost one has to pay.” He also paints a striking picture with, “Know that this place that sustains our life is the support of life.”

The main reel of the slam poetry show can be found at

Next up in celebrating 10 years of Water Rocks

The world premiere of “Water Rocks: The Musical,” at the Ames City Auditorium, is scheduled for June 16 with a rerun on June 23. Information about showtimes is available at

Stevenson is a visual outreach specialist and conservation educator with Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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