It is a chance to take risks and to grow deeper within yourself. I have been hosting open mics and other poetry related events for 5 years now. I love the energy that people share with one another when presenting their work. Poetry, short stories, comedy sketches, songs, dances, play excerpts, etc, these are all ways of putting light into the world or relieving pain from ourselves. No effort is too small and I love giving people the opportunity to share their voices.The concept for Poetic Awakenings came to me after a conversation with a dear friend and fellow poet. I was asking why I hadn’t heard any new work from him lately and he looked down, saddened, and shared that he believed he’d forgotten how to write. The muse had dumped him. I was shocked. This once prolific writer was stuck in a sea empty of words. A sea that I had found myself drowning in one too many times. Sometimes we isolate ourselves from the truth, believing that our experience is unique unto us, everyone else is doing “it” right. So silly of me. Humans are so closely woven together we are almost touching at all times. Artists are no different. We become bogged down in expectations and forget how to breathe around our creations. We gasp and struggle and suddenly this art thing… isn’t so fun anymore.Sometime must be done! How do we quench the creative drought? The answer was so simple I almost tripped on it. We just do. We pick up our pen, our brush, our shoes, our voice, and we use them. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece every time. It’s exercise. You sweat and curse and say you’ll never do it again but everyday you come back because you know, in the end, it will make you stronger.
I have created a space for artists, especially writers, to go back to school. Like a traditional open mic, anyone can come, sign up, and read what they have brought. It’s a pretty simple format: put your name on a list and you will be called to read in order. Art Bar is a free speech venue so, you can say whatever the hell you want. Each poet is allotted approximately 5-7min to share their work. If time allows they are more than welcome to sign up again later in the night. Unlike a traditional open mic there is also an educational aspect. Paper and pens are on every table. Some of the pages contain quotes or words of inspiration. These are to be used as “prompts” to create a new piece of work. I also lead breathing exercises and ask questions that participants are asked to respond to in their journals. No one is made to share what they’ve written, but many do. My only rules are:
1. Clap for everyone,
2. Respect the Mic (meaning give the speaker your full attention) and
3. Write at least one new sentence. That’s it.
I’m not big on production but instead like to create a room full of peace and creativity. I’m scaled down and I’m humble but each new poet who gets up to the mic for the very first time sets my heart on fire. I am so in love with this art form and, as long as I’m able, will be bringing it to the community as a whole. Whether you’re a page poet, a spoken word artist, a slam poet, an emcee, or a barista with a collection of sonnets written on the back of receipts, there is something for you at Poetic Awakenings. I am by no means an expert at anything but I do know what I love and more than anything I love seeing artists come out of their creative winters, place pen to page, and bloom.
– Kendal Turner
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What Jasper Said is the blogging arm of Jasper – The Word on Columbia Arts, a new written-word oriented arts magazine that serves artists and arts lovers in the Columbia, SC area and its environs in four ways:
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