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The Reflection

Poetry Club prepares to share work at upcoming poetry reading

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Gull Lake’s Poetry Club meets every Wednesday morning during seminar in the media center.  Pictured are Betsy Bergeron, Destiny Peterson, Courtney Pedersen, Marleigh Thorn, and Sydney Rotigel-Finnegan. Photo by Sierra Mason.

Gull Lake’s Poetry Club will be participating in a poetry reading at the Alma-Powell branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library on Tuesday, February 27 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The poetry reading is an open mic night for students in 6th grade to 12th grade.

“It’s open mic night, so when you show up you sign up for a slot, and then if there’s time at the end they’ll just leave it open for people to speak,” said Gull Lake librarian and Poetry Club advisor Betsy Bergeron.

Bergeron said the poetry reading will provide Poetry Club students with an opportunity to share their work.

“Obviously they have stuff to say, that’s why they write poetry,” Bergeron said. “I decided that sharing with the public, with other poets would be good experience and good exposure of their art.”

Not every poetry club student will be reading on February 27, but most club members are planning to attend to support their peers.

“We’re all gonna try to be there, there’s a few of them that are actually going to read. The ones that aren’t comfortable are going to come for moral support,” Bergeron said.

Each week, Poetry Club members have the opportunity to write new poems and share their work. Pictured are Betsy Bergeron and Destiny Peterson. Photo by Sierra Mason.

Poetry club members are free to choose whichever poem they’re comfortable reading to present at the Kalamazoo Public Library next week.

“We’re going practice on Wednesday before we go out there and make sure that we’re putting our best foot forward and have good feedback in a safe environment before we go do it in public,” Bergeron said.

Spoken word poetry is, in many different ways, a performance that needs to be rehearsed.

“You want to make sure people can understand you, that your rhyme scheme–or some people don’t rhyme–but that your rhythm of your poem makes sense, that it flows well,” Bergeron said. “And sometimes you don’t realize it until you say it out loud so it’s always good to practice.”

According to Bergeron, poetry readings are safe places to express yourself, Bergeron said. Audience members (who are often poets themselves) are usually encouraging and understanding. It’s okay to be nervous, but there’s no reason to be.

Betsy Bergeron starts poetry club when she took a job as one of Gull Lake’s librarians this past fall. Photo by Sierra Mason.

“There’s people from all backgrounds, all writing for their own reasons, so I think that you can learn about culture and why other people might write,” Bergeron said. “Some people write because they’re happy, some people write because they’re sad, some for political reasons, but all people are ultimately trying to get their idea and worldview out there for other people to understand.”

Bergeron hopes that participants in the poetry reading will learn to break out of their shell and to be comfortable sharing their art.

“I don’t know if any of them have read in public or not, but I would hope that, and I feel like I’m on repeat but, I hope that they would just learn to be comfortable in that openness and sharing,” Bergeron said. “And that their voice is important and that they have something important to say and they can say it, and it can be different from somebody else.”

Bergeron is currently working with the Richland Community Library and its Teen Advisory Board to organize a local poetry reading that more students in the district (both middle schoolers and high schoolers) will be able to participate in.

Annie Thorn

This is my first year on staff at the Reflection. I enjoy running track and cross country. I also spend a lot of time volunteering at Gracespring and the Richland Community Library. After I graduate this year, I hope to go to college and pursue a career in public history.


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