EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — An evening of poetry inspired by perseverance through the pandemic is coming to East Lansing this weekend.
Lansing’s long-running series of open mics and poetry workshops, the Poetry Room, returns Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to the Broad Art Museum.
“I want to hear the stories of people surviving whatever they’re going through, whether it’s during the pandemic or not. Everyone has a story to share, and that’s the main point we want to get to,” Takahashi. “Inspiration for survival, every day, is important.”
Masaki Takahashi is Lansing’s third Poet Laureate, succeeding MSU Professor Laura Apol in April.
The Lansing Poet Laureate works to help nurture poetry in Greater Lansing and is responsible for booking literature-focused events.
“It’s exciting. I knew I was going to keep doing what I was doing even if I was chosen, but it was a good choice,” Takahashi said. “They’re going to help me with some things.”
He has a lot of ambitions for his tenure and hopes the extra attention can help grow the poetry room.
“I love introducing people to the poetry room, and I hope the platform will grow,” Takahashi said.
For years he ran his passion project The Poetry Room, an event series that spans the territory of open-mic parties, collaborative workshops, and slam poetry battles.
“It’s all about it. It’s full of energy, lots of jokes and lots of stories. Even if you haven’t experienced this story, you can relate to it because it’s a human experience,” Takahashi said. .
Saturday’s event will feature special guest Johnny “JJ” Jones, a Baltimore-based Detroit poet and teacher who has participated in major poetry events such as the Black Arts Matter Festival.
Jones’ poetry addresses issues of social injustice and the experience of black people growing up in the United States. He has also worked with at-risk youth in the surrounding Baltimore area.
Takahashi was able to invite Jones to the poetry room after learning that he grew up in Detroit and still visited his family members regularly.
“For me, Black Arts Matter poets are some of the best in the world,” Takahashi said.
Alongside countless aspiring local blacksmiths, Takahashi also helped bring nationally-known poets to the Poetry Room.
A GoFundMe campaign is currently underway to help book more guests to the poetry room. For more information visit: Facebook.com/The517PoetryRoom.