The Bloomington Writers Guild will present its Last Sunday poetry reading and Open Mic event at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Monroe County Convention Center.
As part of the Guild’s monthly Last Sunday Poetry Reading Series, the event will feature readings by two local poets and an open mic opportunity for anyone to take the stage to share their work.
Eric Rensberger, a longtime local poet, will be a guest reader at the event. He said he had spoken at readings several times a year since the Guild was founded in 2010.
Most of his works are cataloged online, including his “Project “Count my days”, a series of over 1,000 poems published in chronological order according to when they were written. At the event, Rensberger said he planned to read a selection of his recent work.
“It’s going to end up being what I thought for the past two years, because we’ve had the pandemic, bad politics, wildfires and wars,” Rensberger said. “Hopefully it won’t be too dark, but it’s just kind of an account of what it was like for me, my experience going through that.”
Rensberger said he enjoys the open-mic readings because of the supportive relationship between the writers. There’s something in common about a group of individuals trying to define their human experiences together, Rensberger said.
“It’s not exactly the church,” Rensberger said. “But it sort of has a similar institutional function, people who are dedicated to a higher cause.”
Colleen Wellslocal poet and author, will also read during the event.
Wells said she will read either of her mental health memoirs, “Dinner with lookalikes,or a book she plans to publish later this spring, “Animal Magnetism.” She said her recent book was inspired by the joys and perils of wildlife.
Her childhood spent on seven acres near the White River, with pet cats, dogs, deer and a raccoon, served as inspiration for her wildlife poetry, Wells said.
“I just watched them a lot,” Wells said. “I found the nature to be healing, but it can also be traumatic depending on what you observe.”
Wells said she hopes to get more involved with the Guild in the future.
“Even though I’ve been a member for a while, I feel like they offer so much that I’ve only scratched the surface,” Wells said. “We really have a vibrant community of writers in Bloomington.”
Open-mic events give writers the opportunity to comfortably share their work in an intimate setting, said Patsy Rahn, the event’s organizer and former founding president of the Guild. The interactions between the audience and the poet make people feel like they know each other, Rahn said, and she’s seen readers feel good after sharing for the first time.
“It’s a safe space,” Rahn said. “It just makes you feel connected to others in a very, very positive way.”
Rahn said the Guild has nearly 400 members, not just from Bloomington, but from across the United States and Europe. Along with offering several workshops and reading programs throughout the month, she said the Guild provides a collaborative environment for all writers.
“When you’re writing, you’re on your own,” Rahn said, “So it’s a way to connect and feel like you know other writers, no matter where you live.”