PORTSMOUTH-The Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center (SOMACC) is prepping for A Night of Portsmouth Poetry to take place this month.

“I was inspired to host a Portsmouth-themed poetry night by Ian Bush’s poem, ‘A Comprehensive History of Portsmouth, Ohio.’ Poets from Portsmouth write poems about Portsmouth, and I think that’s something to nurture and celebrate,” Scioto Literary’s Amanda Page said. “When I was a young writer in Portsmouth, I wrote poetry about Portsmouth, and now as an older writer who is from Portsmouth, the city continues to be my muse in my nonfiction and any poetry that I write. I thought it would be fun to get others together that consider Portsmouth a muse.”

Page explained that Portsmouth is a serious part of her identity and did a lot in shaping her love of storytelling.

“I, and Scioto Literary, focus on literature in the region because it was in the tri-state area that I developed my own love for literature. I began to develop my eye and my voice in Portsmouth. It was my first muse,” Page said. “Nurturing the careers of others who are writing in the Portsmouth area is important. Literature is one entry-point to understanding a place. The more we write about Portsmouth, the more we can understand it, and the more we can do to make it and keep it a vibrant place to work and live.”

Local featured writers will take to the microphone in the event hosted by Scioto Literary, as they reflect on life in the peerless city just before an open mic.

These writers will tell tales of their lives in Portsmouth, including Brew Wilson-Battles, Barbara Costas-Biggs, J.I.B., Amanda Lewis, Amanda Page, and Abby Spears.

The lineup is one that Page says she is excited about.

“I’m thrilled to have this particular line up, because I know that each writer both writes about Portsmouth and CARES about Portsmouth,” Page said. “Not every line in every poem or excerpt will be praise for the city, but it will be a glimpse of the city, truth of the city. I hope that audience member leave with both a sense of pride for Portsmouth and Portsmouth writers, and a sense of the city they may not have felt before.

Once the named writers complete readings of their works, the microphone will be open to other writers in attendance.

“We will have an open mic portion of the evening, and I hope that it inspires people to share work that they’ve written about the area,” Page explained.

This event is something that Scioto Literary and the Southern Ohio Museum hope to make an annual endeavor for the local art scene.

“I hope that we might make this an annual event around Valentine’s Day. Every year, local writes could come together to share work they’ve written inspired by the area, like a love letter to the city – although work does not have to be positive about the area,” Page said. “I think that sharing work about the area is positive in its own right, and we don’t need to force the work to be all unicorns and rainbows. It can reflect real, nuanced experiences.”

The museum, while historically having a major focus on visual arts, also has many instances of performative art. Not only do they own Cirque d’Art Theatre, but they’ve had theatrical classes, concerts and more. The museum’s Jenna Stewart says the poetry night is just one example.

“We aren’t just limited to visual arts here, and our aim is to provide space for all different types of creative expression. We have visual arts, music, and performance, so it would be remiss not to include writing,” Stewart explained. “Art is a way of communicating, and the written word is a wonderful integration of artistic and cultural communication. We want to provide a platform for writers to share their work out loud.”

This is also another instance of art that the museum also wants to see continue into the future.

“We are really excited to be able to partner with Scioto Literary and other organizations and individuals who have shared interests. As a small community, mutual support is essential for creative groups,” Stewart said. “Our goal is to have an ongoing series at the museum that would focus on poetry, writing, and lectures. We have been having poetry and open mic nights every couple of months, with local author J.I.B. helping to coordinate. We’d love to see that series continue to grow. Portsmouth actually has a strong community of writers, and I hope this series can help that community organize and connect.”

The event is free and open to the public. The museum is at 825 Gallia Street in Portsmouth. There is also a handicapped accessible entry point on Sixth Street. They are open Tuesday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. There is a voluntary donation of $2. A member of the museum may be reached at 740.354.5629.

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved