Local art and music venue Counter Culture, in conjunction with the Saginaw Community Writing Center and the SVSU Writing Center, hosted an open mic poetry night Tuesday, Jan. 23. The event was organized to celebrate the release of the first edition of “Still Life.”
The literary journal, the first to exist in the Saginaw community, features a collaboration of creative works from Saginaw residents and SVSU students.
The journal was made possible by grants that the SVSU Writing Center attained. Students from the SVSU art program provided the artwork for the journal.
The event featured a myriad of different performances and performers.
The first half of the evening was a celebration of all of the local writers who were approved to be published in the “Still Life” journal.
During this time, those who appeared in the journal had an opportunity to stand up on stage and perform their published works.
Performers varied in both style and age. High schoolers, SVSU students and middle-aged adults all had an opportunity to express themselves.
“It’s about giving people a voice,” said Assistant Director of the SVSU Writing Center Chris Giroux of “Still Life” and live poetry in general. “(At SVSU), we have Cardinal Sins, but out in the community, people don’t necessarily know about or have the opportunities to publish. For us, it was really important to get the whole community involved. We saw (‘Still Life’) as an opportunity for people to share their work and promote creative writing.”
The “Still Life” journal also functioned as a competition with cash prizes to three different poets from three different age categories.
“This collaboration between the college and the community, and being able to celebrate the writing and artistic abilities of those in the area, is very important,” said early-childhood and education junior
Kirsch, who has been a part of both the Saginaw Community and SVSU writing centers for nearly a year, believes that there is an inherent value in having events like this both for the local community and SVSU students.
“I think it’s really cool that SVSU has partnered with such a different organization to give students and community members opportunities to explore the arts and interact with each other outside of that college setting,” Kirsch said.
The second half of the night featured the open mic portion. The floor was opened up to anyone who wanted to share a poem. Saginaw residents of all different backgrounds took the stage and put on a compelling and quality show for the crowd of over 80 people.
“We had a really great caliber of poets and a lot of first-timers,” Giroux said. “A lot of what the people were reading was very interesting.”
The subject matter of the poems varied, such as the Saginaw community itself, but the most prevalent topic, no doubt, inspired by the #MeToo movement, came from the many young women who took the stage for the very first time to detail some of their stories about being sexually abused.
Those performances were both poignant and elegantly written, something that impressed both those in attendance and those who put the event together.
Anyone interested in information about submitting work for the next edition of “Still Life” can contact the SVSU Writing Center by phone at (989) 964-6062 or email at email@example.com. All entries are due by July 15.