EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – An evening of poetry inspired by persevering through the pandemic is coming to East Lansing this weekend.
Lansing’s long-running poetry open mic and workshop series the Poetry Room returns Saturday, 3:30 p.m., at the Broad Art Museum.
“I want to hear the stories of people surviving the thing that they go through, whether it was during the pandemic or not. Everybody has a story to share, and that’s the main point we’re getting at,” Takahashi. “The inspiration for survival, every single day, is important.”
Masaki Takahashi is Lansing’s third Poet Laureate, taking over for MSU professor Laura Apol in April.
The Lansing Poet Laureate works to help nurture poetry in Greater Lansing and is responsible for booking literary focused events.
“It’s exciting. I knew I was going to keep doing what I was doing whether I was picked, but it was a good fit,” Takahashi said. “They’ll be helping me out with certain things.”
He has a lot of ambitions for his tenure in the position and is hopeful that the extra attention can help grow the Poetry Room.
“I love introducing people to the Poetry Room and hopefully the platform will get bigger,” Takahashi said.
For years he’s helmed his passion project the Poetry Room, an event series that covers territory from open mic nights, collaborative workshops and slam poetry battles.
“Anything goes. It’s high energy, a lot of jokes and a lot of stories. Even if you haven’t lived through that 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 poet and schoolteacher from Detroit who has appeared at major poetry events such as the Black Arts Matter Festival.
Jones’ poetry touches on issues of social injustice and the Black experience growing up in the United States. He has also done work reaching out to 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 regularly to see family members.
“To me, the poets at the Black Arts Matter are some of the best in the world,” Takahashi said.
Alongside countless local budding wordsmiths, Takahashi has also helped bring nationally acclaimed poets to appear at 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.