Poets reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic and the revival of society as restrictions begin to loosen at “New Beginnings,” a poetry slam held by Bloomington arts nonprofit Artisan Alley on Thursday night.
Organized by Artisan Alley intern and Purdue University student David Phan, the event encouraged community engagement. Held in the Dimensions Venue at Artisan Alley, audience members sat in rows of folding chairs in front of the stage and were invited to participate in an open mic session at the end of the line-up.
The poetry slam featured work by poets Phan, Ian Gridley, Rayden Sia, Joshua Johannsen and Artisan Alley Founder and Executive Director Adam Nahas.
Each artist offered a different perspective on COVID-19. Some poems were somber, reflecting the sadness and pain the pandemic brought upon the world. Others took a more hopeful tone, highlighting the unexpected good to come out of being in quarantine, including becoming closer to family as well as being more in tune with self identity.
Nahas presented five personal poems representing different stages of the pandemic and his feelings during those stages. For his first poem, Nahas read a piece titled “Cloister”. The poem included the themes fear of death and being imprisoned. Nahas referred to the poem as being a reflection of quarantine life and the beginning of the pandemic.
In a different tone, Sia, an IUPUI student originally from Malaysia, reflected on his time during quarantine. He said the time made him realize, despite its issues, the United States provided him a community where he felt comfortable to explore self expression.
Although Artisan Alley is being careful to follow COVID-19 guidelines they intend to hold similar events to this evening’s poetry slam, according to Nahas.
“This event is one of our first efforts to get a group of people together since COVID happened,” Nahas said.