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Olivia Cobb, a junior studying English, reads poetry during Donkey's Designated Space poetry night on March 28, 2017.

Students on campus express themselves through poetry

Athens is known for being a special, small college town with a thriving bar scene. But beyond the bars, Athens also harbors a flourishing art scene with many work by students. 

Donkey Coffee and Espresso, 17 W. Washington St., is a space where students can share their art.

Donkey hosts weekly “Designated Space” open mic nights on Tuesdays at 9 p.m, where anyone can share their music, poetry, opinion and other interests.

“It’s an opportunity for people to present something they created,” Ben Ziff, manager of Donkey, said.

To Ziff, Designated Space is a great thing for Donkey to have. It adds variety to the coffeehouse. 

Madelyne Moore, a sophomore studying political science, has been going to Designated Space nights at Donkey since her freshman year. 

“I like the entire experience,” Moore said. The atmosphere here is calming and intimate.”

One of the best things for Moore is that Designated Space is open to anyone and everyone. 

“There’s no certain things people need to have to enjoy poetry,” she said. “It’s very welcoming and people won’t judge.”

Other than attending, Moore reads her own poems and performs them at Designated Space nights, too.

The first time she read an original work, it was nerve-racking. But to Moore, there is almost nothing more rewarding than reading one’s own work to an audience. 

“Reading poetry in front of people -- you’re at your most vulnerable you’ll ever be in your life,” she said. “Your entire being is in front of everyone.”

Moore was also worried about how her work would be received. She found that she wasn’t judged -- rather, celebrated. 

“Every experience has been wonderful,” she said.

Moore often shares her poems on love. Her themes also include identity, queerness and culture. She encourages others to share their poems and experience doing it in front of an audience.

“It’s normal to be nervous,” she said. “It’s an incredible experience. You get almost a high, and you want to keep doing it.”

Jerwon Thomas, a sophomore studying psychology, is another student poet. 

Thomas recently performed at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium during Black Alumni Reunion (BAR) week. It was his first time performing his poetry in public.

“It was a big step for me,” Thomas said. “I was nervous because there were a lot of people there.”

The process of preparing and practicing a poem paid off. Thomas said he got a good reception. 

“I feel that the aftermath is rewarding,” he said. “Before, you have to practice, and after, people tell you how they feel.”

To Thomas, poetry is expressing one’s feelings in a way that isn’t always easy to explain. For him, it’s a therapeutic art form. 

“It’s a great way to relieve stress and anxiety,” he said. “You can do anything with art, like painting, and it be a stress reliever.” 

Seeing others perform poetry is a valuable experience for Thomas. He enjoys seeing the creativity of others, and it inspires him to be a better poet.

Thomas is a member of Ohio University Recruiting Society (OURS), an organization that has very much inspired him to share his poetry. He will perform poetry in its variety show Nov. 4.

@_kerijohnson

kj153517@ohio.edu  

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