During her freshman year in Mrs. Leatherberry’s English class, Aly Terry wrote a poem for the unit they were working on. She had heard a little bit of poetry prior and seen a few slam poetry videos, but nothing beyond that. When Ali Terry shared her poem, Leatherberry told her to go to K-word and sit in to see what happens. Next thing she knows Terry has found something special in sharing her poems.
“K-word is a place where people can go to speak their minds and not be afraid of being judged,” Casey Stark, freshman, said. “It’s very free and open and people just get to give their soul to the world.”
The club sets up a natural atmosphere that promotes the want for kids to listen and learn from their peers, according to Dominic Pioter, English teacher and K-word club sponsor, said.
The club is accepting, and allows members to express themselves and let out their pains and worries, leaving them feeling liberated, according to Stark.
“[K-word is] a space for students to learn how to write better, learn how to grow in their confidence and ability to share their own truth and explore what that truth is, and then learn how to say it with power,” Pioter said.
Pioter started K-word when he began working at KHS four years ago. He had a slam poetry club at his previous school, University City High School, and decided to bring the idea with him to KHS. He decided to bring the club to KHS because he had been conducting the club at his previous school for six or seven years. He saw the effects it had on the students and Pioter felt it was a unique way he could contribute to the school, Pioter said.
“To me, [K-word] is a home away from home,” Camryn Howe, sophomore, said. “It’s where you get to tell people how you feel and what you care about in a different way. [Depending] on the day [the club] can be relaxing or more exciting or fun.”
With creativity being suppressed during school, the creative outlet K-word provides is beneficial to its members who are able to learn how to express themselves. In this place they can and let out all of their emotions through poetry, Terry said.
“K-word is just a place where no matter where you come from, no matter your background, your religion or your sexual orientation, you all share something in common which is the love of writing,” Terry said. “So when you come into this place you instantly feel a connection to everyone there, it’s a family, a safe place.
Read a poem by one of the club members.
“Battlefield” by Camryn Howe
I live on a battlefield A place where men turn into guns and bullets Devoid of the humanity their mothers taught them in childhood Because life is no longer a game Innocence and mercy lost as soon as training began Civil duty overlooked with every shot But no one wears any war paint Because all they need to justify a finger on the trigger is the color of another man’s skin And I’m stuck in the middle of I’m sick of being stuck in the middle of it No man chooses the color of their skin No man chooses to die for the color of their skin You pride yourselves in being “the fairest” of them all But the fairness of minorities job opportunities, collage acceptance, and public treatment is nonexistent Just like black representation in media Every day we see white and white and white and white And when we get a glimpse of color in a sea of blank canvases It was made for us” Like our culture would taint the sanctity of your cookie cutter entertainment But what’s really entertaining is your idea we are taking something from you Like we are trying to discriminate you You’re the little white boy who cried “Reverse Racism” over and over when it was never there And one day if it is there, none of us are going to believe you Now why do you insist on teaching your kids to be afraid of black people You say you’re trying to protect them But you must be bad at your job because you didn’t protect them from the white guy who shot up their school You blame us for everything bad in this world But you still claim the fact that you “don’t see color Maybe that’s way you don’t see that the color of everyone you’re shooting is black It’s always black Black It’s now a measurement in your negro communities Light skin, dark skin If you want us to stop segregating you stop segregating yourselves A white person saying they want a white partner is just as bad as a black one saying they want a light skin black one Now I’m not telling you to assimilate I’m asking you to educate yourselves Going to class isn’t a “white people thing” it’s a smart people thing We are taking your rights away for our own privilege but you can take it back Take an AP class and show us you deserve some respect Show us that you have a mind of your own You aren’t just what we are telling you to be Every time we try to give you a hand you push it away and put a label on it that says “white” But every white hand you don’t take is another white hand to holding a gun in your face when you are unarmed but you could have been armed with a friend No man chooses to die for the color of their skin No man chooses the color of their skin I’m sick of being stuck in the middle of it I’m stuck in the middle of it l have the perfect seat for watching the bodies fall to the ground But I close my eyes because it’s not something for me to watch I feel the pull on both of my sleeves They’re asking for water Begging for help But who do I help I can’t let them die Have you ever noticed We’re all just red on the inside
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