The poetry readings at the Classic Bean in Fairlawn Plaza are not widely known about in Topeka. ?
?These poetry readings have been going on for the last 15 years in Topeka at various coffee shops. The hosting duties have been passed along from one avid poet to another. Mike Millborn inherited the position when his predecessor moved away from Topeka. Since that time he has seen somewhat of a decline in the overall popularity of the events.
?”It’s a real struggle to keep this alive in Topeka,” said Millborn.
?Not only is Millborn the M.C. for the poetry slams, he’s also an avid reader and poet.
?Millborn has dubbed poetry “theropoetics,” because he believes that poetry can be therapeutic. His work is mainly inspired by his own observations of the world.
?Millborn pointed out that, unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of newcomers that come to the poetry slams.
?”We don’t really have a younger audience that comes anymore,” said Millborn. “Most of them have gone to Lawrence, I think, because it’s a college town.”
?Millborn wasn’t the only poet reading. Two newcomers were also present at the slam. Lori Owens and Ed Brunt are Lawrence residents who made the trek to Topeka to listen and participate in the reading after seeing a flyer advertising the event at the Classic Bean on a previous trip. The two had been to a few poetry slams between them, but had never read at one. Being two poets themselves, they also agreed that poetry slams are starting to become a rarity.
?”We have become a Cliffs Notes society,” Brunt said. “Poetry that can’t be easily understood isn’t poetry to most people.”
?Brunt thinks that most people who don’t write for pleasure tend to look down on those who do.
?Owens believes that poetry has become somewhat antiquated as an art form in today’s society, but that fact doesn’t diminish its importance, or the importance of writing in general.
?”Poetry is something I’ve been doing for many years,” Owens said. “You can’t say some things to a person that you are able work out in writing.”
?Like Millborn, Brunt and Owens also draw inspiration from their everyday observations and feelings for their poetry.
?”Every poet wants to reach out to someone with their poetry,” Brunt said.
?The Classic Bean in Fairlawn Plaza hosts poetry slams the first and third Thursday of the month from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m. These readings are free and open to the public. Poets may sign up to read starting at 7:30 p.m. on a first come first read basis. For more information call (785) 271-5005.