And the winner of the 37th Poetry Slam is…


The winners of the 37th Poetry Slam, left to right: Derek Pufahl, Andrew Clegg, Jared Shultz and Stephanie Hempel.

Erika Schwartz, Staff Writer

WSC senior and long-time poetry slam participant Stephanie Hempel was Poetry Slam 37’s first-place winner on March 2.

Hempel, who is majoring in English with an emphasis on writing, is from Long Pine, Neb. She has been writing ever since she bought a journal because her best friend told her it was a good idea.

“She’s a genius so I usually trust her intuition,” Hempel said. “I’ve been writing ever since.”

Hempel has competed in the poetry slam seven times during her time at WSC, and she has placed in six of them.

“I signed up after encouragement from the wonderful Dr. (Stephanie) Marcellus in my first poetry workshop,” Hempel said.

Since she has participated in so many of the slams, Hempel has had the opportunity to share her work, and more important, her message to hundreds of people who have attended in the past few years.

“I love the anxiety of the slam. When you’re on stage and you look out into a sea of harmonious faces and they’re listening, or you assume that they’re listening, to you it feels like you have the power of the whole world in your vocal cords,” Hempel said. “Language is living. I try to read for myself, what I need to say. And for others what someone out there in that audience sea might need to take home with them that night.”

In addition to competing in the slams and sharing her voice, Hempel has also been a judge at the slam, as well as helping plan it as a member of the editing and publishing class at WSC.

“I have taken all levels of editing and publishing and enjoyed them immensely,” Hempel said. “It’s a unique class that gives students experience in leadership and organization.”

Although competing in the slams has certainly been beneficial for Hempel and the future of her writing, she believes the slam is an essential part of WSC and Wayne. Additionally, Hempel is confident that writing has the power to heal, and hopes that her words at each slam might have helped someone in the crowd.

“The poetry slam is the lifeline and beating pulse of Wayne, America. Everyone should slam. Everyone should write,” Hempel said. “The only feeling greater than creating art is sharing the art that you’ve created and knowing that someone may benefit, become inspired or find themselves within your art. We are all that we have somedays, and I think the poetry slam gives people an opportunity to explore that notion.”