New poetry group gets the timing just right

by Shelby Grebbin / Beacon Staff • September 18, 2015

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Tori Hawks-Ladds is the president of Poem.
Tori Hawks-Ladds is the president of Poem.

An idea that had previously only existed in Tori Hawks-Ladds’ mind came to life with the beep of a timer and the drop of a pen. All students in attendance of Poem’s first ever official meeting would soon learn that in the world of flash poetry, creativity trumps conventionality.

On the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 16th, the sophomore visual and media arts major held the first meeting of Poem in the ninth floor common room of Piano Row. A safe-haven for sharing, Poem encourages writers to explore their minds through the form of flash poetry. All the writers are given is one prompt, five minutes, and the reminder that anything can be art.

“I think it’s a great way to get creative every once in a while,” Hawks-Ladds said. “Sometimes you get so caught up in finding the right inspiration or the right word to start a poem, but when you have a timer you just have to jump right into it.”

Food and laughter were plentiful as the students delved into the meeting. The small group of 10 wrote and shared their work in three rounds of flash poetry, each bout beginning with the beep of a timer and the reveal of a new prompt.

“They can range from a word, like the color blue, to something very specific—like, the poem must have five lines and every line has to start with the word ‘sweater,’” Hawks-Ladds said at the meeting, laughing.

Hawks-Ladds’s ideas don’t end there—a Poem prompt can range from literary to visual. A six-word story, a dream sequence, and a photograph of a dog all served as inspiration for writing.

Christie West, a sophomore communication studies major, was one of the 10 at the meeting.

“Tori has created a non-competitive, non-judgmental poetry environment,” West said.

According to Hawks-Ladds, Poem, unrecognized by the Student Government Association, is designed to be a place where Emerson students can feel comfortable sharing their work in a club located at but not affiliated with the college.

“The definite first advantage is that we’re totally off the grid of the college bureaucracy,”  Hawks-Ladds said. “I like the idea of us being totally free to do what we want within a college setting.”

Aside from the spontaneous creation of poetry, Hawks-Ladds also hopes to establish a revision process where writers can workshop the pieces they’ve written both in and out of the club, with the goal of making a compilation at the end of the year.  The organization is scheduled to meet every Wednesday night at 8 p.m., giving members plenty of time to work on their writing portfolios.

“I want this to be a relaxed space where people can just come in once a week, be creative, get something on paper, and hopefully have something to work with in the future,” Hawks-Ladds said.