BEREA – Several members of the Berea community took turns in front of a podium to share their writings with an audience on Thursday.
With fairy lights and artwork illuminating the room, each speaker should feel welcome to share their artwork – some sharing for the very first time. The Berea Arts Council’s slogan – “art for all” – was displayed at this event as people from diverse backgrounds had a space to share their stories.
The event featured Hasan Davis of Hassan Davis Solutions as the main spearhead. He officially served as Commissioner of Juvenile Justice for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
He is also the author of three books, including a work of poetry entitled “Human Writes: A Book of Poetry”, “Written Off: How One Man’s Journey Through Poverty, Disability and Delinquency is Transforming the Juvenile Justice System” and “The Journey of York: The Unsung Hero of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
“I am thrilled to be back in this space and to invite you all to this space,” said Davis, board member of the Berea Arts Council.
He read several poems from “Human Writes” at the event.
Poem titled ‘Sorcerers evil’ Davis said he wanted to share because he was ‘reflecting on recent events in Buffalo’; referring to a mass shooting that occurred in Buffalo, New York, at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood. Ten people were killed and three others were injured – 11 were black.
Davis recited another poem titled “Aces” about his experience with homeless veterans while visiting Los Angeles, California. He said veterans were “disconnected from the world they sacrificed for.”
After Davis finished sharing his work, he answered questions from the audience. An audience member asked Davis about his writing habits.
“(Writing) became a tool for me to kind of exercise all that pain and anger, grief, fear in a way that I could then observe from a distance,” Davis replied. “I could actually show others what it was and so it became kind of a catalyst.
The event allowed people to share their works, poems and excerpts from novels that they wanted to share. Everyone had about five to seven minutes to share.
Alice Lovelace – cultural worker, performance artist, teacher and poet – has shared a poem about an experience teaching sixth graders. The poem centered on an incident in which her student told her that she couldn’t teach them anything because she was old. She said the constructive poem was aimed at older members of the audience.
“I was born in the 40s, I grew up in the neighborhood, I rocked music before it was rock, I grew up saying yes madam, sir and please, now these words come off my tongue with ease. But this new generation thinks I’m square? Without my struggles, you would be nowhere,” she recites.
Elaine Hunter, a member of the Berea Writers Circle who lives in Cartersville, shared several poems she wrote during her 78 years. Her poems caused laughter from the audience while she was on stage.
One poem she shared was about pregnancy, which she said she wrote in the 1960s, but Hunter said it’s “always going to happen.”
“It was my fault, you know, for getting pregnant at all. At least that’s how he felt about it. And I guess he was right. After all, I didn’t said no. But we were married and most of the books said it was okay. Pretty hard to tell which ones are fairy tales,” Hunter recites.
Alex Heyrman shared his work in public for the first time and was encouraged by the public. Heyrman has described himself as a “closet writer”. He shared poems on a variety of topics, including interracial dating, experiences in the military, and being homeless.
“But can we really appreciate the night without the day, the black without the white?” He recited.
The Berea Art Council will host an open mic literary evening every third Thursday of the month.
Josh Prentice, event organizer and member of the Berea Arts Council, shared that he was happy to be able to organize this open-mic literary evening, he hopes to see more spectators at the news.
“For the first night, I’m very happy,” Prentice said. “It would be nice to have more audience participation. It’s great to have them (sharing their work), but it’s also great for people to find out.”