Poets gathered at Spiva Center for the Arts on Saturday, May 25, as part of Artworkers: Creativity and America. The event, “Body and Word: A Poetry Project,” included poetry readings by Missouri Southern State University students and alumni, Spiva’s artist-in-residence Hugh Merrill, and Spiva gallery/gift shop coordinator Shaun Conroy.
Poems were written in response to Artworkers’ themes: America, Americana, nature, ecology, family, politics, monuments, and liberty. Some poems were humorous—one poet discussed bananas and how it seems odd that some are said to take 3.5 days to ripen—while others were more serious.
Featured MSSU students and alumni—under the direction of Joey Brown, a professor of English at MSSU—include Natalie Byers, Amelia Carpenter, Madison Pollock, Ruth Stamper, Kristine Steddum, Bailey Stehm, and Peter Thompson.
The event also showcased a mannequin dressed in poems written by students in Brown’s poetry class. Poems were handwritten and typed, and a few resembled ransom notes. Students were given two class periods to compose poems in a poetry lab.
Prior to the reading, participants and guests were given the opportunity to write poems and post them in Spiva’s main gallery. Merrill created this hands-on project, which will continue as ArtWorkers runs through early July.