On September 22, the Flumes Fall Friday Poetry Cafe had its first event of many to come, which was presented by The Yuba College Literary Arts Club. The event line up consisted of five presenters who brought a combination of original work and a few poems by their favorite writers to perform as spoken word.
In addition to the presenters who were on the schedule, the event had an open mic portion of the evening in which several people participated.
The night, on the whole, had a cozy and intimate feel, and had a fairly small audience This gave a sense of comfort especially for the presenters who felt vulnerable and were reading poems that were more personal.
Jodi Hernandez, a member of The Literary Arts Club who organized the event, spoke about how she feels that writers are revolutionaries. She says, “We are one of the primary driving forces in social change throughout history. When we write about our own experiences and share them with others it provides a different perspective for people who don’t see things the way we do.” That is the reason she wants to have these cafe nights– to expand people’s perspectives and share experiencers through writing.
The first presenter, Yvonne Madison, who is a member of the debate club, brought a piece by Patricia McCormick that she was reading as a dramatic interpretation. “It’s nothing new… I’m excited.” said Madison. Her experience on the debate team showed as she read this poem with enthusiasm and movement. The reading was entitled “Sold”, a piece that was about human trafficking in India, to which she dedicated to “all of the girls who don’t have a voice.” As she read, she depicted each character with changing tones and inflections, and her performance showed how passionate she was about this topic.
Another presenter, Kelly Barber Cunningham, had prepared two poems of her own and one by another writer, Sharon Olds, a favorite and a kind of hero for Kelly. She said she has been inspired by Sharon Olds’ encouragement to be open and has come to really enjoy writing personal poems. One of Kelly’s original works entitled “The Pot Club” illustrated her experience in working at Compassionate Caregivers, a medical cannabis directory in Oakland. Her poem described the people that she worked with there as actual human beings rather than simply drug addicts. They were brought to life with the empathy that comes from working with people on a personal level.
The featured speaker, Jassi Bassi, has been praised for her outspokenness on Indian culture on many accounts. Jassi presented several of her original poems, many of which were about her concerns about the divide in India. One of these poems entitled “The partition” expresses her discontentment about India’s division, specifically within the Sikh, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu communities, and how she wants a united India. More of her poems can be seen in her feature in Flumes Literary Arts Journal.
The Literary Arts Club plans to host these on a monthly basis, and the next event is scheduled for October 27th, in the campus center inside the 300 building. They encourage everyone to come and show their support for these writers who strive for change.
Note: this article was featured in the Fall 2017 print edition of The Prospector.