To write is a cathartic experience. It is a way to organize one’s mind and make sense of the world, or a way to create a whole new world of nonsense. It’s meditative. It’s funny. It’s melancholy. It’s frustrating. And for a lot of us, it is completely vital. But to speak our writing out loud is risky. It’s becoming susceptible to critique or judgment. When reading work in front of others there is nowhere to hide. But, in facing this fear, we can break ourselves open and flourish. We can connect. We can inspire.
Since the first open mic in April of 2014, Out Loud had a unique spark. So many talented wordsmiths and poets exist in the Huntsville area, but there was no consistent place for them all to come together, share ideas, and grow. Encouraged and motivated to see what these people could accomplish if they all were in the same room, I sought out a venue. Luckily, it was right under my nose at the ever uplifting and inspiring Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. I brainstormed, set the date, and began telling anyone that would listen.
That first event had about 6 people in attendance. Yes it was intimate, but it was magic. After some gentle arm twisting, voices were trying on new words and filling the air with their sound. Then, after the briefest open mic, we had our first ever featured poet – Molly Pettis Reid. For 30 minutes, Molly captivated. She was the perfect person to take on this role because she is raw, honest, and not afraid of being exposed, and most importantly, she makes anyone that listens to her feel capable of doing the same thing, and that was the whole point. The reactions from everyone at the end of the night sealed the deal – this was a necessary thing in the community - it needed to keep happening.
The community that blossomed is not only talented and inspiring; they are profoundly supportive of one another. There is no longer anything to be afraid of in sharing, because the audience right there with you, lifting you up.
I am humbled every time someone new gets up and shares, and by how well they are all received. I am grateful each time that new person turns into a regular. I am inspired by every reader, every feature. I am overjoyed each time the audience buys a features book, or gives a donation to support these artists. I love to sit back and observe the connections being made at the end of each event. The questions asked, the compliments given, the friendships grown. That’s what this has always been about – giving a space to that vital community. A space to share, and connect, and learn. I cannot wait to see what each event brings. The momentum has been built, the fire has been started, the potential has been unleashed.
We have grown into hosting poetry slams, critiques, workshops, lectures and more, all along with having a physical studio location. All are welcome to come to our events, even those who have never read their work aloud before, or who are new to writing. The events that we host are dedicated to fostering new voices, encouraging growth in all skill levels, and inspiring dialogue within our incredible community.
Thanks for all the wisdom and words,
Out Loud HSV Founder & President