EWU alum tackles community issues with power of poetry

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

Onstage and off, Bethany Montgomery’s passion for poetry is alive and burning brightly across communities in Spokane, Cheney and beyond.

Montgomery, a EWU alumna, went against risk and uncertainty to pursue the creation of the organization, Power 2 the Poetry.

Montgomery came up with the idea for the movement the Sunday after last Thanksgiving while driving back from the west side to Cheney. She met up with AJ McKinney (aka “AJ the Wordsmith”), a friend from EWU who also shares a genuine love for poetry, later that night to propose what she was thinking.

“[I said to McKinney], ‘It’s gonna be visionary! Revolutionary!,’” Montgomery said. “Everything I do I am serious about, and I put all my effort into.”

Soon after that night, Marie White, who met McKinney through a breakdance battle, completed the “Core Three” triad that would eventually found Power 2 the Poetry.

“We spent all of December getting a feel for the poetry scene in Spokane, then in January started meeting people and networking to put us in positions to be successful,” Montgomery said.

Power 2 the Poetry members call themselves “edutainers”—educators and entertainers. The group aims to bring diversity and inclusion into the community by talking about various social, cultural and political issues through poetry and other artistic methodology.

“We focus on giving a platform to the underrepresented demographics, marginalized groups and people whose voices aren’t necessarily heard,” Montgomery said.

These topics give audiences points of resonation that will further engage them into Power 2 the Poetry’s main message: “Express, expose, ignite.”

In just a couple months, Power 2 the Poetry has managed to exceed countless expectations considering its youth as a movement. The group has performed at numerous locations including middle and high schools, community colleges and universities including Spokane Falls Community College, Gonzaga University, and then EWU-where they won the “Eastern’s Got Talent” competition-Spokane City Hall, and even the Spokane Women’s March.

The “Core Three”  has also been recognized by local TV broadcasts and news outlets, such as KREM 2 News, The Inlander and Spokane’s CMTV channel.

Power 2 the Poetry stays strongly integrated in the Spokane community by volunteered outreaches to the homeless and also continuing participation in Spokane Poetry Slam.

“We go to all the slams and open mics,” said Montgomery. “We love Spokane Poetry Slam. We are heavily involved.”

The group’s motto, “Express, expose, ignite” reflects not only the objectives of the movement, but also the individual personalities of the “Core Three.” They each have something dynamic to bring to the stage.

“Marie is the ‘express’,” said Montgomery. “She had a hard life. She’s gone through a lot, so she has so many emotions. Everything she does is so real. When she says things you can feel the pain in her voice and what she’s been through. She can also sing, her voice is beautiful. AJ is the ‘expose.’ AJ is very educated and does a lot of research. A lot of what he says is factual, [he says] things people are unaware of. He’s exposing so many issues and truths. He can freestyle, [so] people give him random words and he thinks of a poem off the top of his head. He definitely brings the energy to the group …”

While the “Core Three” take a lot of the spotlight, the Power 2 the Poetry organization contains at least twenty more artists, dancers, visual artists, painters, sculptors, musicians, singers, rappers and more who work more behind the scenes to make the movement as powerful as it is.


There is much to look forward to by the growing number of Power 2 the Poetry followers in the coming dates.

February 28 at 7 pm, Auntie’s Bookstore will house the Power 2 the Poetry Slam where sign-up is free and $100 goes to the winner.

“I want competition!” said Montgomery. “I want to expose talent. I want to discover a lot of talented people so I can get them to be apart of Power 2 the Poetry. I’m really excited to see what Spokane’s got!”

Even further down the line will bring more performances at a number of conferences, churches, and schools. EWU students can anticipate a performance during Diversity and Inclusion Week this coming March.

Montgomery highly encourages people to follow their social media pages to further bring attention to the Power 2 the Poetry organization and the messages they want to send.

As Power 2 the Poetry continues to reach new levels, so does the excitement and passion of the “Core Three.”   

“We are bold and unafraid to approach anyone” said Montgomery, “I’ve never seen a group like us before.”