April 25: Tara Phillips, Miah Clark and Claire Nash's 'Flowers' comes with thorns

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Separately, they're slam poets with an important message, but together, they turn into a powerhouse team.

Miah Clark, Claire Nash and Tara Phillips make up one-third of The Silhoulettes, a slam poetry team from Shawnee Mission South High School. Recently the teens competed in the Louder Than A Bomb KC poetry slam, using metaphors to send a message about feminism. Their word weapon of choice: flowers.

"I think the metaphor speaks for itself. We're not flowers. Don't treat us like these delicate beings," said Clark, a 16-year-old junior.

On the surface, the word "flowers" means exactly that, but beneath their words and passion, it holds a much deeper meaning. The teens say they were inspired by artist Georgia O'Keeffe, who painted flowers as vaginas. Every time they reference a flower, they are speaking up for how they believe women and their vaginas should be treated.

"We're powerful women. We deserve to be treated the same way that men are, to be given the same opportunities that men are," Phillips said. 

"We should be treated as human beings, as people," Nash added.

Warning: this video contains some explicit language.




The teens have competed on the slam team for years, tackling various subjects related to human rights and mental illness. They say it's important to remain relevant, pulling inspiration from what they see on the news. 

"From school shootings to Donald Trump being our president, it gave us inspiration to write about social justice and do what we can as students to make a change," said Phillips, an 18-year-old senior.

Although they may make it look flawless, the writing process is anything but that. Aside from finding time to write, the students must manage class and extracurricular activities. They also work with the six other people on their team to brainstorm ideas. 

"It's pretty vigorous," said Nash. "The day we wrote the flower poem, we were at Mya's house for seven hours."

"It's a lot of time so we have a document that we've shared on Google Docs and we all type on it. It's definitely a long process," Phillips said.

But, the team doesn't do it all alone. The ladies credit their coach, Caroline Ewing and a woman they call their poetry mom, who happens to be Clark's mother. 

"Although I wrote a poem exposing the darkest parts of her mental illness this year, she's still very supportive and she's been our poetry mom for the past two years," Clark said.

Moving forward, all three teens hope to compete at the collegiate level someday, but will take different avenues for their careers. Phillips and Nash are both seniors who will head to college in August. They plan to study Marine Biology and Psychobiology, respectively.

Clark still has one more year at Shawnee Mission South, but hopes to double major in creative writing and graphic design in 2019. 

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