When Jett Fesler became an owner of WhySound in July 2015, he didn’t see it as just a music venue; he wanted to host other events as well. One of the unique events he and fellow owner Adam Stiletto have helped start are the WhySlam poetry nights, which happen once a month.
“I wanted to branch out and do things like this,” Fesler said. “I’ve wanted to do things other than music, so this has been really good because it’s had a pretty consistent turn out.”
WhySlam features local poets and allows them an opportunity to perform their poetry for an audience. WhySound generally hosts local and smaller touring bands and musical acts, but the poetry nights have become a popular monthly event since they started in August 2015. Fesler said the audience usually numbers from 30 to 40 each time.
Nate Hardy, who hosts the events, said he took over for Kate Lange.
“It started with her,” he said. “She got the community riled and we’ve just been carrying it on since.”
Hardy said Jess Nani and Tyler Mueller help him advertise and run the events today.
“We’re so blessed because Logan has an incredible community for slam poetry,” Hardy said. “Admittedly it’s a novice community. WhySlam is right down to the bone; there are no rules, except for read poetry and love everyone.”
“My favorite thing about WhySlam is the way it’s able to bring together such a wide range of diverse people in Cache Valley,” Mueller said. “Everyone is able to connect and find a common experience in each poem.”
WhySound isn’t the only outlet for slam poets in Logan. Helicon West, which is run by Logan City Poet Laureate Star Coulbrooke, has had a steady following since its inception in 2005. While neither slam censors the authors, Fesler feels the crowd at WhySlam is a little more informal.
“Down here everything is uncensored and a little more acceptable,” Fesler said. “I’ve had people tell me you can say what you want at Helicon West, but here is much more relaxed and you can get your voice out.”
Hardy said he looks at the WhySlam events as raw and blunt, like an angsty teenager, whereas Helicon West is a more mature venue.
“I kind of look at Helicon West as that angsty teenager 30 years old,” he said.
Fesler said the dedicated slam crowd in Logan is bolstered by the presence of Utah State.
“The first one and the second one were really heavily attended,” he said. “It’s kind of calmed down a bit but there’s still a big following. There’s a lot of writers and a lot of people wanting to express themselves. We get a lot of English majors.”
This month’s slam, which happened on Tuesday this week, added a charitable aspect, in the spirit of Thanksgiving.
“This one we’re doing a food drive,” Fesler said. “You bring two cans of food or a bag of flour, or whatever, and you get in for half price. And then all the food is just going to go to the food pantry.”
Fesler said he has plans for more events like this in the future.
“We’ve done a lot of benefit concerts before, but this is the first one I’ve done that is a food drive. We’re doing another food drive on December 3. It’s going to be an all day festival.”
The event in December will include music from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., with acoustic acts and full bands. It will cost $10 but like the WhySlam event on Tuesday, audience members can get in at half price if they bring food or clothes to donate.
Hardy said that even though the WhySlam events have a dedicated following, they could use more performers.
“We’re actually desperate for more readers,” he said. “There is a community presence ready to listen, but as far as getting the word out for readers, that is something we need badly. The past couple times we’ve been a little low.”
Fesler said, the success of WhySlam has opened the door for other non-musical events. He said he has plans for doing movie and comedy events at WhySound starting in 2017. He even started a small climate change awareness group through the venue.
“I got super tired of how I see people dealing with climate change,” he said. “We’re planning on meeting this week and making reusable bags and see if Smith’s and Macey’s will use them.”
For Fesler, owning a venue is an opportunity to help out the community.
“I’m trying to do little things around the community like that,” he said. “It’s nice because I have the space to do it.”