Power 2 the Poetry: Local movement continues to engage and expand


EWU alumna Bethany Montgomery is the creator of the organization Power 2the Poetry. Almost 200 people gathered at Aunties Bookstore last Wednesday for the movement’s first poetry slam | Richard N. Clark IV for The Easterner

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter

The Power 2 the Poetry movement continues to exceed expectations, rise above limitations and break down false foundations of the Spokane and Cheney communities.

Bethany Montgomery, AJ McKinney, and Marie White—the “Core 3”—plus the team of artists and coordinators pulling ropes behind the scenes, put on the movement’s first Poetry Slam competition last Wednesday night at Auntie’s Bookstore.

The bookstore overflowed with almost 200 people anticipating satisfaction to their ears and minds that the power of poetry would bring that evening.

Montgomery and McKinney said they were both very pleased with the slam’s turnout.

“I have never seen this many people at a poetry slam or event before—it makes you just smile from the inside and out,” McKinney said.

The slam’s lively atmosphere cannot only be attributed to the high energies from “Core 3” and the audience, but also to the individual poets and cast members bringing their dynamic spirits to front stage.

Twahan Simultaneous, a rising poet in the Spokane Poetry Slam competitions, was the host for the evening. He took his opportunity as host to kick off the event warming up the audience with a poem about societal issues and social change, giving them a flavor of empowerment to start off the night.

Judging the event were Nick Franco (Pride Center manager at EWU), Wendy Levy, Kianna Baker, Jac Archer, and Mercy Aguilar.

McKinney referred to those individuals as, “Monumental influences in Spokane society.”

Ten poets were picked randomly from a pool of 22 to compete. The competition was organized into three rounds that left two remaining competitors in the final round Devin Devine and Salem Del Cielo.

Del Cielo sent the audience into shocked hysterics with her performance of a twisted poetic version of the story of the Virgin Mary. She received honorable mentions from both Montgomery and McKinney for the amusing performance and her fifty-point perfect score.

“Me and Beth almost fell over from laughter,” said McKinney. “I never once, in all my years of poetry slam, have ever seen a perfect score.”

Devine is also a frequent participant in the Spokane Poetry Slams. From her humorous impersonation of the Greek goddess Hera, which referenced issues and intricacies of marriage and womanhood, to her symbolic narrative of Nancy Drew the Alcoholic, Devine brought enough personality, spunk and emotional richness to the stage to win her the entire competition, and the $100 prize.  

“This is what I’m trying to show Spokane: all the capabilities and the talent that’s out there that you guys may not see,” McKinney said.

The Slam last Wednesday could be a major stepping stone for the Power 2 the Poetry movement. Even with rising fame and popularity, the message of “express, expose, ignite” stays the same.  

Montgomery’s hope for the movement’s audiences is that they can see the bigger picture of the messages they want to send.

“We are so diverse in what we can do and say,” said Montgomery. “I wanna try to talk about issues that people don’t normally think that we talk about. Last month was Black History Month so we really pushed that, but this month is Women’s History Month, so I’m gonna be doing a lot of feminist poems.”

Power 2 the Poetry has done and continues to do substantial amounts of outreach for the Spokane community, putting a majority of its focus towards youth.  

“We are in the schools, working with kids, teaching these kids about poetry, teaching them how to express themselves, and not be ashamed of what they have to say,” said Montgomery. “My main thing is coming up with projects for the kids. We are working with the kids to help them create social justice projects.”

The “Core 3” will be busy in the upcoming weeks. Events to find them at will include the Spokane Woman’s Club workshop (March 10), the Women’s History Month Edition Open Mic (March 20), the 50 Hour Slam Film Festival (March 23), the Get Connected conference (March 28), the Power 2 the Poetry-hosted poetry workshop (April 3), the Spokane NAACP General Meeting (April 18), the Student-Led March for School Shootings (April), the “Listen to Your Mother” show at the Bing Crosby Theater (Mother’s Day), and finally, multiple performances during EWU Diversity and Inclusion Week.

“We’ll be putting out some heat during Diversity and Inclusion Week,” said Montgomery, “We’re really gonna surprise some people.”

Though the movement is only a month old, Spokane and Cheney are already feeling the vibrations that Power 2 the Poetry is putting out, and there is a lot more to come from this group.