SouthfieldAugust 2, 2012
Curtain call: Southfield’s poetry program bids ‘adieu’ on sixth anniversary
By Jessica Strachan
C & G Staff Writer
SOUTHFIELD — Call it the encore.
Southfield’s outlet for poets, storytellers and musicians, which grew from humble beginnings in a coffee shop to filling up an auditorium, will see its final performance this evening. As it reaches its sixth year, Poetry, Pages & Scribes is saying “adieu” due to a lack of funding.
“Poetry is a catharsis. I feel like people have things they need to express and share. It’s a way to build community, but it also allows community to inwardly heal with an outwardly expression,” explained program founder and host Ber-Henda Williams.
This 32-year-old Southfield native lives and breathes poetry.
She remembers first being exposed to it through her education in Southfield Public Schools and how that passion inspired her to go on and establish her own community programs to offer locals the same type of release she felt in spoken word.
“It’s been particularly useful for youth to express themselves. I’ve seen it be life-changing for them,” she said, adding that as a Spanish teacher at Henry Ford Academy, she created a poetry series that welcomed her students and families. “The purpose was to engage the poetry community at large. But I am a one-woman operation. I am a crazy poetry lady, I guess, to start it all by myself.”
It first started as a small gathering in the Starbucks on 10 Mile in Southfield. It was a regular platform to promote local poets, musicians and storytellers, as well as host a nationally featured poet.
Before they knew it, the group was too large, too strong in the arts, to be contained in a coffee shop. So Williams pursued a partnership with the Southfield Public Library, where the program has been housed for the last several years.
“I had no idea it would grow to this magnitude and mean this much to so many people. But the reality is funding, “Williams explained. “As we know, in Michigan, the first place budgets get cut is in the arts.”
Williams tried to take precautionary measures against losing the free program that was supported by fundraising and sponsors. She started hosting Poetry, Pages & Scribes quarterly instead of monthly, but still the time came where it was too much.
“As one person shouldering the responsibility of it, I just couldn’t sustain it,” she said.
Williams said that in the slowest of months, 70 people would turn out. Double that number for a typical month.
“Through it all, we’ve never seen a decline in attendance,” she said.
Williams said that though Poetry, Pages & Scribes is saying goodbye as people know it now, the show will go on for those who have allowed poetry become a lifestyle of expression.
“I will continue to write poetry and continue to facilitate literary workshops around the community,” Williams promised, adding that she’s having conversations with local schools about establishing programs. “The series will still be accessible at community events, and I will always be accessible to people.”
As Poetry, Pages & Scribes has its final show Aug. 2, it is expected to be a bittersweet celebration of how far they’ve come, explained Kelly Ireland, librarian at the Southfield Public Library. She said Poetry, Pages & Scribes “brought poetry to life” in the library.
“Poetry, Pages & Scribes has been a program that welcomed everyone — young and old, rich and poor, so long as they are a lover of poetry,” she said. “It has been a great start for some poets and inspired others with new words or songs.”
Taking the stage in the final show will be some of the youths who have been a part of Williams’ program for several years and have blossomed into inspirational poets and storytellers, she said.
The event is free and open to the public, and will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the first-floor auditorium of the Southfield Public Library.
For more information on Poetry, Pages & Scribes or its next event, visit www.poetrypagescribes.org or follow it on Facebook.
- Last 24 Hours
- Last 7 Days
- Last 30 Days
- Missing woman found dead - West Bloomfield
- BHS Orchestra selected to perform at Carnegie Hall - Berkley
- All in the family - Clinton Township
- Christmas Wonderfest brings holiday wonder to Novi - Metro Detroit
- Police seek help in fatal hit-and-run - Clinton Township
- Premature birth rates decline in Michigan for sixth year - Metro Detroit
- Looking Back: 1920s Coolidge Highway - Berkley
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer - Shelby Township
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams - Walled Lake
- Mom, man she met online to stand trial on child sex charge - Warren
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee - Macomb Township
- East Detroit student dies following pool accident - Eastpointe
- Attorney dies in Harper Avenue crash - St. Clair Shores
- CVHS students to stage production of ‘Hairspray’ - Clinton Township
- Sterling woman hurt in shooting - Sterling Heights
- Christmas comes to the Shores - St. Clair Shores
- County board considers regional water authority proposal - Macomb County
- Shelby boy battles rare form of cancer
- Lions Thanksgiving halftime show spotlights WLC band, cheer teams
- BHS Orchestra selected to perform at Carnegie Hall
- Macomb Home Depot creates college scholarship in honor of deceased employee
- Child prodigy becomes youngest artist exhibited at Park West Gallery
- All in the family
- Christmas Wonderfest brings holiday wonder to Novi