The annual Teen Summit staged by the Urban Leadership program at Central Campus is old enough now that the original summiteers aren’t teens anymore. Like those charter participants, the event is growing up, and no one better personifies both sides of that truth than Leah Waughtal, who we profiled last fall.

One of the goals Waughtal declared then was for the program to compile and publish a chapbook of original poetry and that box was checked over the weekend at Teen Summit VI when RunDSM Volume I was officially released and on sale as part of the event’s merch catalog.

“We are ecstatic about the book,” said Waughtal after the summit’s opening ceremonies Friday morning at the Des Moines Social Club’s Kum & Go Theater. “It feels like a rejuvenation.”

Not that any is necessary at this point.

Waughtal’s been around since the humble beginnings of an afterschool workshop in spoken word poetry at Harding Middle School that’s since mushroomed into a full-blown movement. There are chapters now in schools at all levels, elementary/middle/high, throughout the district, and they are bursting with passion and energy.

The ecstasy that Waughtal mentioned was plain to see and hear from the opening bell right on through the culminating showcase on Saturday afternoon at Hoyt Sherman Place, headlined by Aja Monet, a poet, writer, lyricist and activist of Cuban-Jamaican descent from Brooklyn, New York.

Waughtal curated the collection of 20 poems for the chapbook with the help of the M515/RunDSM Youth Board. It includes work by both current and former students and will be used as a written word quasi-text to help sustain the still gathering momentum of a spoken word phenomenon.

Post-summit scuttlebutt includes the possibility that RunDSM Volume I might soon be available at retail outlets like Raygun and Barnes & Noble.

Besides the new publishing venture, the summit followed its tried and true model of students-only Friday afternoon town hall meetings and workshops leading to the crescendo of a free-to-the-public Saturday showcase.

One of the Friday workshop topics was Zines: Self-publishing Your Words and Visuals. If any additional assurance was needed that volumes II, III, IV, etc. are sure to come from whence came RunDSM Volume I, there you have it.

The summit and the chapbook series might just become the biggest things in Roman numerals since the Super Bowl.

Photos of Teen Summit VI
Teen Summit 2019

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