On a warm summer's night in REO Town, Lansing, The Poetry Room hosted their last open mic of the season this Tuesday. Despite having a host under the weather and a featured guest absent due to flight trouble, the show went on at The Robin Theatre.
The list of performers included MSU Slam team alumni, frequent and first time readers, local musicians and a dad joke battle. There was a full house.
Co-founder and co-host Masaki Takahashi led the show and kept the crowd energized. He made sure to uphold the mission of The Poetry Room and told all present that they were welcome and supported.
As the last show of the spring season, Takahashi reflected on The Poetry Room’s first year.
“This is a great community. That’s the thing we love about it because we’re really just celebrating what we did this entire year and the friendships and the relationships that we created,” Takahaski said.
The Poetry Room has made its home at The Robin Theatre over the past year bringing poets together from all over the Lansing area. The Robin Theater offers the chance for small-town poets and musicians to fulfill big dreams of performing on stage, in front of an audience, with a bright spotlight on them.
“There is something glamourous about The Robin Theatre and it’s blue curtains and photos and we try to put on more of a show,” said Grace Carras, co-founder and co-host of The Poetry Room.
The Robin was founded in 2015. Since then, it has become an diverse and welcoming space for comedy, poetry, music and films.
“People ask me all the time what we do at The Robin, and I could say any number of things, but I really like to highlight how eclectic our calendar is and one thing that I always talk about is The Poetry Room. It’s, I think, a really special event. The thing that has blown me away is, since this started about a year ago, Masaki and Grace have consistently just invigorated the poetry community and driven full houses for poetry in Lansing,” Rodgers said. “We’re very proud of the Poetry Room and the work that they’ve done and we’re proud to host them.”
Due to its rising popularity over the last year, The Poetry Room has drawn a diverse attendance and pool of performers. Some are current college students, some graduated from MSU and continue to live in the Lansing area and some travel to Lansing for Poetry Room.
Isabella Mansfield commutes from Howell to read her poems at The Poetry Room open mics.
“I’ve never been in a room with so much talent. Everybody is amazing. Everybody. No exceptions and it’s just phenomenal to be in a room with this many badass performers. It’s inspiring and there is such an energy,” Mansfield said.
Mansfield is frequent reader at The Poetry Room and for The Classics open mic she read a poem that mourned the closing of Toys R Us stores and reflecting on how future generations will live their childhoods without wandering down endless rows of Legos. Mansfield is also scheduled to read her poetry in London this summer, a journey followed and supported by the community formed through The Poetry Room.
The Poetry Room ultimately strives to be a comfortable and safe place for members of the community to come together and share their love of the arts. Musicians can try out new songs in front of a crowd. Poets can read on stage for the first time and allow poems kept hidden in journals and phones to see the light of a stage.
During the open mic, the Robin Theater was transformed by people gathering to read poetry, play music and share in each others sadness and triumphs. Friends, old and new, were encouraged to keep attending The Poetry Room’s summer events at Henry’s Place in Okemos, as well as their line up of open mics starting back up in August at The Robin Theatre.
“What are you waiting for? It’s free and what else are you doing on a Tuesday? I’ve only missed one and every night I’ve been here it’s been packed to the walls, like packed, standing room only,” Mansfield said. “Why wouldn’t you be here for that? Why wouldn’t you want to see what everyone else is already here for? You’re already missing out so you should probably just get there.”