The Bloomington Writers Guild will present their Last Sunday Poetry Reading and Open Mic event at 11 a.m. on Sunday in 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 long-time local poet, will be a guest reader at the event. He said he’s spoken at readings several times a year since the Guild’s foundation in 2010.
Most of his works are cataloged online, including his “Account of My Days” project, a series of over 1,000 poems published in chronological order according to when they were written. At the event, Rensberger said he plans to read a selection of his recent work.
“It’s going to wind up being what was on my mind over the last couple years, as we've had the pandemic, bad politics and wildfires and wars,” Rensberger said. “I hope it won't be too grim, but it's just kind of a record of what it was like for me, my experience of living through that.”
Rensberger said he appreciates the open mic readings because of the supportive relationship between the writers. There’s something communal about a group of individuals trying to define their human experiences together, Rensberger said.
“It’s not exactly church,” Rensberger said. “But it kind of has a similar institutional function, of people who are devoting themselves to a higher cause.”
Colleen Wells, local poet and author, will also be reading at the event.
Wells said she will read either from her memoir about mental health, “Dinner with Doppelgangers,” or from 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 observed them a lot,” Wells said. “I found nature healing, but it can also be traumatic depending on what you're observing.”
Wells said she hopes to grow more involved with the Guild in the future.
“Even though I've been a member for a while, I just feel like they offer so much that I've only scratched the surface,” Wells said. “We do really have a vibrant community of writers in Bloomington.”
The open mic events give writers an opportunity to comfortably share their work in an intimate setting, Patsy Rahn, the event organizer and a founding, former chairperson of the Guild, said. The interactions between the audience and the poet makes people feel like they know each other, Rahn said, and she’s seen that readers feel wonderful after sharing for the first time.
“It's a safe space,” Rahn said. “It just makes you feel connected to other people in a way that's very, very positive.”
Rahn said the Guild has almost 400 members, not only from Bloomington, but from across the U.S. and Europe. In addition to providing several workshops and reading programs throughout the month, she said the Guild offers a collaborative environment for all writers.
“When you write, you're alone,” Rahn said, “So this is a way to sort of connect and feel like you know other writers, wherever you may live.”