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Artists join forces with poets for writing experience

WESTFIELD-Two artists are sharing their works of art in the hope of stimulating written words for “round 2” of the Westfield Community Poetry Experience.

This month’s open mic event, slated Feb. 11 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Hutghi’s at The Nook on Franklin Street, is the second in a series of four poetry open mic events leading up to the April celebration of National Poetry Month.

“The Community Poetry Experience, an offshoot of the Westfield Poetry Trail and Images & Words poetry events in 2018 and 2019, builds on the success of those previous poetry experiences with the objective of further exploring and sharing with the community the special intensity and expressiveness of feelings and ideas of poetry, and to promote local writers and poets from the Westfield area,” said Bill Westerlind, president of ArtWorks of Westfield.

The first event was conducted in late January at Blue Umbrella Books, and on March 21 at 10 a.m., the third open mic is planned at the Olver Transit Pavilion. The culmination of the Community Poetry Experience tour is April 18 at 10 a.m. at Blue Umbrella Books.

Westerlind, the principal driver of the poetry open mic series, is also working behind the scenes on the events with Shamiya Marty, a Westfield poet and member of the WhipCity Wordsmiths writing group, and Tara Dasso, a Western Massachusetts poet and photographer and founder of the Write-Up Springfield writers group.

A framed oil titled “Twain Blue Magpie” by Ware artist Greta Gnatek Redzko will be featured during the Community Poetry Experience! Round 2 on Feb. 11. (Greta Gnatek Redzko Photo)

“Poetry is a very different experience relative to other literary platforms,” said Westerlind, adding, “its expressiveness and often intense emotional and personal content makes for some very engaging listening and sharing.”

Westerlind noted even if someone does not consider themselves a poet, anyone can write poetry.

“The simple act of expressing oneself through words in poetic cadence, rhythm and pitch can be a very enriching, cathartic and evocative action,” he said. “Sharing these expressions during an open mic environment adds a new dimension to the written word and enriches those listening to the words.”

Area residents do not have to be a poet or writer to attend these events.

“Listening to these heartfelt expressions can be a very unique experience,” said Westerlind.

What makes this series unique is how planners have incorporated elements of the 2019 Images & Words poetry concept into the 2020 Community Poetry Experience.

“Local artists are providing images of their work which are posted online before each open mic event,” said Westerlind. “Poets are invited to write poetry based on their reaction or interpretation of the art work.”

In February, Westfield artist Jessica Dion is showcasing an 11” x 17” metal print titled “Asylum,” and Ware artist Greta Gnatek Redzko is showing a framed oil, India ink on canvas board, titled “Twain Blue Magpie.”

Westfield artist Jessica Dion will be one of two artists showcasing their work during the Community Poetry Experience! Round 2 on Feb. 11. Dion’s metal print is titled “Asylum.” (Jessica Dion Photo)

The artists, along with the art work, will be on hand at each of the open mic events to listen to the poems and share their feelings and emotions that inspired the creation of the piece of art.

There is no need to sign up ahead of time to attend any of the events.

“Folks can simply show up that evening and share their work,” said Westerlind. “Of course, everyone is invited to attend and listen to the readings.”

People in attendance at the February event are welcome to purchase refreshments at the host venue. Refreshments will be served at the March and April events.

The series concludes on April 18 with a two-hour community poetry reading event featuring 60 minutes of readings of poems submitted by the public via a “submission call for poets.” After a brief intermission, the second 60 minutes will consist of an open mic format where guests and poets will sign up to read their poems, followed by comments, discussion and feedback.

“Poems written and read during the Community Poetry Experience tour will be reviewed and recognized,’ said Westerlind. “We are exploring the possibility of publishing a small booklet featuring some of the poems written for the poetry events.”

For more details on the series, visit ArtWorks of Westfield on Facebook.

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