Poetry thrives in Bay City
February 22, 2010 —
One year ago, Charles Davenport hosted his first Spoken Word, Music and Open Mic Night at Brewtopia coffee house in downtown Bay City. Friday’s anniversary event drew a standing room only crowd as poet Ashley Niedzwiecki and musician Nick Pichet took the stage.
“When I got this up on Facebook and started announcing it there and through the e-mail list, that’s when it started going just bonkers,” said Davenport, SVSU professor of English. “[Brewtopia] had the last four standing room only. It’s awesome.”
Pre-medical sophomore and Bewtopia employee Adam Simmons says the event draws more and more people every month.
“The proof is in the pudding,” he said. “We are packed tonight. We have not stopped all night.”
Niedziewcki kicked off the event in her “I [Heart] MI Vaginas” T-shirt. Her works amused, shocked and entertained her audience.
“I was nervous when I went up there tonight,” said Niedziewcki. “But after the first poem, I felt like I was sitting in my living room with a group of my friends.”
“‘Man Hater’ was a particularly difficult piece for me to write,” she said. “It was difficult for me to read. It was about me being molested as a little girl and the string of abusive relationships that I’ve had since then. A lot of my poetry is in that vein, about the things that I have gone through.”
At times comic, tragic and meditative, Niedziewcki’s poetry comes from real life events. Her reading proved substantive and engaging. “On Coming Out,” “This is not a Poem” and “If you Understood this you Might have OCD” seemed to be audience favorites.
Niedziewcki had several fans from Delta College in the audience including Megan Tobias, current editor-in-chief of the Delta Collegiate.
“I think [audience members] were shocked sometimes at the things she said, but I think they seemed to like it,” said Tobias. “They were laughing, too, so that is a sign of something good.”
“She is a controversial poet, but everything she does is from the heart,” said Simmons. “That is what counts in poetry.”
Davenport says Niedziewcki’s poetry has become a voice in the LGBT community.
“I am so proud of her for being that person,” he says.
Niedziewcki is on leadership team for Unison, Delta College’s gay/straight alliance and the Women’s Alliance, a Delta College feminist group. A Unison and Women’s Alliance poetry reading event at Brewtopia was the first time she met Davenport.
“I don’t want to be the gay poet,” says Niedziewcki. “I want to be the poet who is gay.”
Pichet followed Niedziewcki with jazz and folk music. With his guitar and harmonica, he played cover songs and original tunes such as “Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You.” Pichet anticipates the printing of a new album in the coming months.
“I like these small settings because they sound good,” he said. “People can generally hear [the music] and hear the words.”
Pichet says he has enjoyed playing since childhood and studied music in Boston. He says he enjoys singing as an art form when applying his own style to classic songs.
“I love his stuff,” said Bay City resident Seann McClelland. “I think [Pichet] has an unbelievable talent. It is really amazing that we have someone with such great talent right here in little ole Bay City.”
“[Pichet] is a friend of mine, and I’ve been encouraging him to play,” said Simmons. “He has gotten really good reviews.”
Open mic followed the featured performers, and more than 10 participants stepped up to read poems and play music.
Spoken Word, Music and Open Mic events are booked for the next four months. March features a surprise guest for Poetry Month. April brings a reading by Judith Kerman and music by Paul Munn. In May, Amelia Glebocki is scheduled to read poetry. June features poetry by Michael Mosher who will also play with Cremains of the 10th Circle. Members of the group also include Melissa Seitz, Frank Dane, Kirker Kranz, Lori Kranz, Bill Portmann, Brei Noble, and Danielle Schoeny.