Arts, Seahawks, Seward Schools

Passionate about Performance Poetry

The following article was written by Seward High School junior Elena Hamner.  For more pictures and a video from poetry week, as well as other articles, please visit the student news source.

Kima Hamilton and Dasha Kelly Hamilton travel the country and teach workshops on the art of writing and performing poetry. This power couple first set foot on our grounds March 2015 when slam poetry was a stranger to Seward. Since then, the two have returned in following years to further their teaching on the art of performance poetry.

These workshops are spread through all language arts classes provided at Seward High School, with each grade practicing at a different level of advancement. For example, freshmen brainstormed ideas to create haiku and a “where I’m from” poem. Sophomores learned to write odes and compose poems about things that mean something to them. The junior class learned to research and record facts based on world events. From there, they personified an object and talked from the object’s perspective. The seniors were put into groups to construct poems and showcase the group dynamic treatments such as layer and punch.

A week working with Kima and Dasha, and Seward High’s students turn into poets. On Friday, Karl Pfeiffenberger, Shelby Schoening, Naomi Ifflander, Alex Ursel, Natasha Tolbert, Lincoln Farris, and myself participated in the slam competition.  Also, many other students volunteered to read their poems during the open mic showcase. Needless to say, Seward High School’s students rocked the stage, or in this case, the commons. It was yet another successful year of poetry, and hopes for many more in years to come.


SHS Today conducted a video interview with a few students who took part in the poetry week, as well as Kima and Dasha themselves. It is always special when they come to Seward, and because of their previous visits, they said it was like “coming home to old friends.” When asked about what they’ve learned since they arrived back at Seward High, Kima responded, “The biggest thing I’ve learned since coming back to Seward is the impact that we’ve had on the students here, and the impact that Seward has had on us in return.”

A big THANK YOU to Kima and Dasha, Mr. Walker, Ms. Swander, Mr. Marshall, and all those who made poetry week possible, especially those who provided funding. Local support came from Seward Community Foundation and Seward Arts Council.  Also, Bunnell Street Arts Center (in Homer) sponsors Artist in Schools with support from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Rasmussen Foundation and Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.  

We would like to host some community events in the future, so if you are passionate about poetry, please contact me at


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