Example poetry

PLT will host afterWORD Poetry on February 25

PORTSMOUTH – Portsmouth Little Theater is set to open the curtain on a new partnership with The Counseling Center this Friday, as they put patrons under the stage lights to perform original poems.

The partnership is a two-part undertaking. The theater providing the organization with tickets to see performances of each show is the first part. The secondary part, which has become a major axis, is a project called afterWORD Poetry.

PLT Board Chairman and local poet Joseph Pratt worked with his partner and poet Amanda Lewis to create a planned poetry lesson, where the group learned modern poetry tools and techniques. Classes lasted several weeks and included acting and speaking lessons.

Both executives have extensive volunteer and board experience, from Lewis’s involvement with Watch Me Grow Ohio, Portsmouth Street Art Project, formerly the 14th Street Community Center, and Trillium Project. Pratt is employed by Main Street Portsmouth, helps Unity Project and is appointed to the Portsmouth Shade Tree Commission, Fair Housing Board and Human Rights Commission. When not working, the two often write and share their own poetry. Despite their involvement in many bands, the two said that the most emotionally rewarding project was this project because they made so many friends.

“This program is very important to Amanda and I, knowing the power of poetry and creative writing for people who have a lot to do, a lot on their mind, or even trying to sit down , reflect and understand each other better,” Pratt said. . “Early on, I emphasized the importance of poetry for reflection and internal communication, because poetry is like therapy, which they all go through, but the poet takes charge of his own narrative, and that’s is a bit more stimulating.”

Lewis spent much of the class encouraging the poets to take up space, as their stories and experiences are often deeply emotional and worthwhile. The importance for people in recovery to share their stories resonates with Lewis and she has become a major advocate.

“I’m super excited to see them perform and I’m incredibly proud of the work they put into their poetry,” Lewis said. “Opening up on past trauma in the name of art and healing is a bold and risky move, and our poets are ready to stand up and confidently say, ‘You know what? I am here and I am important.

The two had classes of varying sizes, admitting they were initially apprehensive after the first day, given that learning and performing poetry is both daunting and challenging. Over time, more and more participants began to read aloud in front of the class. Pratt said some of the spoken-aloud poetry was written the same day, proof of their involvement and dedication.

“It was so exciting getting to know these people and becoming friends,” Pratt said. “There were times at first when we were anxious about making the connection, but then it clicked almost within a day. We saw people go from not wanting to write to being excited about it. idea to get on the PLT stage and play it with pride.

Lewis said some of the highlights have been finding new ways to get people to write. She spent several days introducing different writing tools and devices, along with some unique prompts to get the class comfortable and thinking creatively. Poets also responded individually: one poet said she couldn’t write poetry but had already written lyrics. So she teamed up with local legend Holly Gail and, within 40 minutes, was able to help compose a song using the lyrics she had previously written. In another example, a class participant was struggling to create a poem, so she asked her mother, who writes poetry, if she could read one of her poems in class. Pratt made copies of the poem and introduced her to a technique of poetry called “found poetry”, at which she excelled, creating the finest example of found poetry that Pratt and Lewis had ever read.

“Finding ways to make them realize that they are capable of artistic prowess was a blast,” Pratt said. “We brought in several members of the PLT board, including Jim Humphrey and Kerri Davis, Staci Slaughter and Karen Cobbs to teach public speaking, acting and other theatrical tools and skills . Many have asked about auditioning for plays, which is exciting to hear. This year we opened our doors to the domestic violence shelter, counseling center and juvenile court. It was exciting to see so many new people moving into PLT. »

Lewis stressed the importance of participating in the event. She says the poetry is wonderful, the songs are beautiful, and she hopes people will come out and support them in their endeavors.

“It takes a lot of strength to live what our poets have and stay committed to their recovery, and it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable in front of others, so it’s important that our community supports them in their healing and empowers them. keep moving forward,” Lewis said.

On Friday, February 25, at 6 p.m., the first-ever afterWORD poetry reading will begin. Book orders will be taken for $20 and admission is $5. All proceeds will go toward a scholarship for students who attend Shawnee State University and whose family members are recovering. The theater is at 1117 Lawson Street and someone can be reached at 740.464.4501. If you would like to donate to the scholarship, call the number above or email [email protected]

Portsmouth Little Theater is set to open the curtain on a new partnership with The Counseling Center this Friday, as they put patrons in the spotlight to perform original poems with a new project called afterWORD.

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