By Leah Spoolstra – The Collegiate Staff
The Grand Rapids Public Library will present a “Poetry Reading with Naomi Long Madgett and Friends” on Friday.
This event is proudly sponsored by the Grand Rapids Community College’s English department. Poets Naomi Long Madgett, Sonya Marie Pouncy, and Marcel “Fabel” Price will present their poetry with musical accompaniment by Robin Connell.
Madgett is an award-winning poet who published her first work of poetry titled “Songs to a Phantom Nightingale” in 1941. Since then, Madgett has worked as an English professor at Eastern Michigan University, published 10 books of poetry, and a few of her poems are displayed at the Library of Congress.
After receiving a master of fine arts from Central Michigan University, Pouncy has featured her poems in several literary journals.
During the poetry reading, Connell will perform one of Madgett’s poems while accompanying the piece with music. Connell is a pianist and vocalist in the jazz genre who became West Michigan Jazz Society’s pick for the 2017 Musician of the Year.
As the sixth Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Price performs his poetry in the downtown area and is a member of the nonprofit organization Diatribe, which inspires students to participate in poetry. When Price was a child, he dealt with trauma from alcoholism and abuse at home. Eventually, Price discovered his freedom in the form of fables because he felt as if he could not express himself.
After struggling with self-harm, Price expressed that poetry is the reason he is alive. Price hopes to encourage other people, especially kids who may suffer from bullying, mental illnesses, or abuse, to take an interest in writing.
“At one point, I felt that I didn’t have a voice,” Price said. “A lot of times, when you feel voiceless, you feel defenseless. (With poetry), I finally felt like I could speak up about what I was going through. It was more empowering than I could ever describe.”
While Price has never met Madgett, he is ecstatic at the opportunity to share his poetry with her.
“I am so excited about this event because I will be able to meet (Madgett),” Price said. “She has floored people before, so I’m excited for the privilege to be able to perform alongside her and to hear her speak.”
The head of the Poet Laureate program at the GRPL, Julie Tabberer, believes that poetry is a gateway for people to express their feelings and discover their purpose.
“I hope that each person who attends will walk away feeling connected and inspired,” Tabberer said. “Poetry is a powerful vehicle to share thoughts, experiences, and emotions. It allows us to process raw feelings and find hope to the future.”
The “Poetry Reading with Naomi Long Madgett and Friends” will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 6 at the Ryerson Auditorium on the Third Floor of the Grand Rapids Public Library.