Wisconsin graduate student Saul Lemerond quickly sifted through his works before the event, crossing out and inserting words, slipping in an entirely new line in one poem, only to put it at the bottom of the stack, never to be read.
When he got in front of the group of almost 60 people at Poetry for the People, an open-mic poetry event put on by The Poet’s Collective and the Honors Program Philanthropic Society’s Homelessness Committee, he read his carefully constructed works, one about a homicidal fan of Justin Bieber, another about a boy who found a penny in the street only to be killed by a bus.
“Turns out he wasn’t so lucky,” Lemerond said.
Before Lemerond moved to Mount Pleasant, he was part of a poetry group in Wisconson who would get drunk in a bar and recite poetry in the street afterward.
“I tried to write serious, but I was never very good at it,” Lermerond said. ” I can do funny though.”
Lemerond was one of more than 16 different poets who read at the event, which raised about $90 for the Lansing City Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Lansing.
Bryan McAttee, Lansing senior, said he was ecstatic for a chance to help raise money for his hometown.
“It definitely caught my attention when I saw that we were supporting Lansing City Rescue Mission,” McAttee said. “The ability to help out my own city, the place where I’m from and where I’m connected to by reading my own poetry, it was really something incredible.”
Musicians Andrew Price, a Brighton senior, and Lake Orion senior Joe Hertler also played at Poetry for the People.
Joe Hertler played a quiet philosophical number to open his two-song set. He said it was the first time he ever performed the song in front of a crowd.
“Sometimes I find old lyrics and just write something around it,” Hertler said, then jokingly, “I’ll probably never play it again.”
Several different types of poetry were read at the event. Beverly Hills senior August Orlow read a more serious set of poems, one about his grandfather’s experience in Normandy.
“I’m not involved in history-type things,” Orlow said. “But if I get an audio of an event in my head, if I get a picture, it allows the time to express my own feelings.”
President of the Poet’s Collective and Elk Rapids senior John Priest said the Poet’s Collective and HPPS got acquainted through Allen Park senior Ben Harris, who is a member of both groups. They decided to join together for the cause because of its impact on local communities.
“Poets are generally socially aware people,” Priest said. “We thought this was a worthy cause and worth our attention.”