Provo Pride holds open-mic poetry for locals

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Provo Pride created a night of open mic poetry and music to create an inclusive space for spoken-word artists and members of the LGBTQ community. Peculiar, a queer literary journal, joined the festivities and encouraged local artists to submit their work for publishing and visibility. The event was held in the Boxcar Gallery and Studios Jan. 28.

This is the first time Provo Pride has held open mic poetry, but, James Bunker, director of Provo Pride and Nickolas Thurber, director of events and entertainment, plan on having similar events in the future.

“I want to do more with idea of poetry and try to put on some sort of slam poetry event regularly,” said Thurber.

Locals from around Provo gathered to express themselves in solidarity. Several poems conveyed the struggles of LGBTQ individuals living with less-than-tolerant families, friends and communities. Emotions ran deep as the poets processed their hardships in coming out or even just accepting themselves for who they are. It was heartbreaking, yet also uplifting because a supportive group of people was there to embrace them after communicating their raw experiences.

“One of our biggest goals as Provo Pride is to create safe spaces and safe places as well as visibility to the community at large,” said Bunker. “[We want to] say, ‘hey there are queer people here, whether you want to believe it or not. We’re not scary. And we have lives like everyone else.’”

Peculiar was there to encourage artists to submit their works and support the journal. The goal is to bring visibility to LGBTQ artists in Utah who are neglected or overlooked by the rest of the community. Peculiar and Provo Pride worked together to bring in artists and generate support the collective.

“It’s about connection; that’s the key. If it’s an ambiguous phenomenon that happens elsewhere and that you don’t have connection with, it’s easy to marginalize,” said Thurber. “If you have direct personal contact, it’s nearly impossible to marginalize that person.”