As part of my internship this summer, I got the chance to photograph May's iteration of an event called Poetry in the Boro, a monthly open mic. The event was started by Kory Wells, a published poet from my hometown of Murfreesboro and author of HEAVEN WAS THE MOON. Complete with monthly word challenges and serious community involvement and support, their mission is to "provide a welcoming and supportive environment for expression of all community voices in poetry, spoken word and short-short prose."
And I want to tell you all about it - but first, a quick aside.
I grew up in Murfreesboro. I know this town. Or, at least, I thought I knew it.
I thought it was small, uninteresting, and flat. I thought that the only way I would be able to live a fulfilling life was if I got out of this town. We wanted so desperately to travel (we still do) that we couldn't see the joy right in front of us.
But then, one day when we were daydreaming about what we would do when we got free of this place, I had a thought.
What are we going to do with ourselves?
I mean, day to day? In our free time? What, will we just watch tons of the same tv shows, but from another couch? How are we going to find these "hidden gems" in local areas if we don't even know how to look?
I realized that I didn't even know what we had in our own town, and that I wouldn't be equipped with the skills to find adventure elsewhere if I couldn't find it here. And it IS here.
So, we've gotten involved. But this was our first ever poetry night, and let me tell you, it was an incredible night.
Hosted at The Green Dragon Pub (which I included in my list of local favorites for its community involvement, local support, and excellent cider), we all gathered in the back room in folding chairs and listened as special guest poets Destiny Birdsong and Poetry in the Boro Co-creator Allison Boyd Justus opened the night. Samples of Destiny's work can be found at her website, and you'll be thanking yourself when you check out her careful, heartbreaking pieces.
Also, Allison celebrated the release of her debut book of poetry, SOLSTICE TO SOLSTICE TO SOLSTICE, a chronicle of a year's worth of sunrises (of which I now own a signed copy).
Afterwards came the open mic, where we had twelve more poets come and share their work, each with their own distinctive style.
Those who have public profiles or work are linked in their captions - please look!
Justin and I continue to fall more in love with local, community events like this one. It always surprises me when I think back and remember how clueless I was to the opportunities for connection and involvement right here in my hometown.
Travel is incredible, and we will continue to move our feet across this globe as often as we can. But, as cliche as it is, there really is no place like home.
I encourage you - support local artists, poets, writers, performers, farmers, business owners. Support! With all the flavor, beauty, and connection that comes with your unique community, you'll be grateful you did.