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Poetry and Pints reading series proves written word not dead

Poetry and Pints is a monthly poetry reading series located at Harmony Brewing Company, featuring poetry about everything from Nancy Drew to divorce to professional wrestling.

Next Poetry and Pints Reading

Sunday, February 15
8 p.m. at Harmony Brewing Company

Poets Megan Levad and Kat Finch will read a selection of poetry.
This event will also feature a timely selection of love poems from several other readers, including Kate Blooms, Amorak Huey, Russell Brakefield, Kyle Flak, Jen Tynes and others TBA.

For details on future readings, like Poetry and Pints on Facebook.

Lauren Gordon reads from Keen, her chapbook of poetry inspired by Nancy Drew.

Lauren Gordon reads from Keen, her chapbook of poetry inspired by Nancy Drew. /Mackenzie Bush

Local librarian/poet Kyle Flak reads.

Local librarian/poet Kyle Flak reads. /Mackenzie Bush

/Mackenzie Bush

Poetry and Pints is a monthly poetry reading series located in the laid-back atmosphere of Harmony Brewing Company.

The readings take place upstairs above the bar in a small room that could seat maybe 40 on a good day. The readers stand in front of a crowd, a mic and amplifier in front of them, and read. Music drifts in from the main bar. Audience members sip on beers and ciders and snack on pizzas.

Within the past few months, the series has featured chapbooks based on professional wrestling, Nancy Drew and Star Trek. Poems have been read about divorce and marshmallow peanut butter cups. It's hard to know exactly what to expect when walking into a Poetry and Pints reading, but that might just be the beauty of it.

The readings occur roughly monthly, always on Sundays. The precise dates are always to be determined, and are announced through the event's Facebook page.

The series hopes to draw people who enjoy different aspects of poetry.

"Everyone should attend," Michael Sikkema, the host and coordinator of the event, says. "Interested in slam poetry? Attend. Interested in alternative traditions like beat, Black Mountain, language, dada, surrealism, conceptual poetry? Attend. Interested in straightforward narrative poems that offer a wild ride? Attend. We don't discriminate in who we want to see in the audience or who we hand the mic to. Chances are if we have three featured readers, you'll like at least two of them."

Sikkema stresses that poetry is still alive and well, and something Grand Rapids residents should still care about.

"Poetry is infinitely adaptable. Advertising, cinema, tv, pop music...all siphon off little bits of what poetry does but poetry at its finest does it all. It offers endless traditions and forms and opens itself to expressing anything," Sikkema says. "It's deep in our DNA."

The series has been going on for over two and a half years, and started because the founders wanted a web of community. It began because a reader from Horse Less Press, which Sikkema helped run, came to Grand Rapids to read at Harmony. After the event, Sikkema asked about hosting a monthly series.

"It was supposed to be a one time thing, but we attended, talked to Barry [Van Dyke], one of the owners of Harmony, and set up the reading series," Sikkema says. "We had been trying to find the right place and the right people to work with for a while and then it all fell together."

Poetry and Pints's next event is Sunday, February 15 at 8 p.m. and will feature a selection of poems from Megan Levad and Kat Finch, as well as love poems from local readers, including Kate Blooms, Amorak Huey, Russell Brakefield, Kyle Flak and Jen Tynes.

"It's kind of hard to explain the energy that a group can create when it's really working," Sikkema says. "The room changes. I'm lucky enough to get to watch it happen."

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