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Rockin' and reading: Wellspring Literary Series hosts musical guest along with poetry

Morgan Taylor | Assistant Photo Editor Grand Valley University professor Patricia Clark reads some of her own poetry to students and community members at the Wellspring Literary Series at Art Reach on Monday night.

Hannah Fillmore loves poetry's ability to inspire.

"I think it makes people feel things," she said. "It's like music; it touches everyone."

The Hope senior said she went to her first Art Reach Wellspring Literary Series reading during her freshman year, but could never have predicted she would have performed at one. Studying English and music, she has done poetry readings in the past, but Fillmore has never been a featured poet.

"(Performing) is kind of a rush," she said. "It's happy and exhilarating and, at the end, you hope your poetry meant something to someone."

The Art Reach of Mid Michigan in downtown Mount Pleasant was filled with about 100 people at the final reading of the event's fifth year, Monday night.

The mission of the series is to bring prominent and emerging poets, along with creative writing students and musicians, to Mount Pleasant.

Robert Fanning, an associate professor at Central Michigan University, created the series. It has been vibrant over the years, he said, with audiences ranging from 70 to 100 people for each reading.

"The combination of poetry, music and art makes for a terrific reading," Fanning said. "Also, Max & Emily's provides food for every event, which is a fantastic attractor."

The night included poetry readings from Fillmore and Grand Valley State University professor, Patricia Clark. Fanning performed with his rock band, Daryl and the Beans, alongside fellow English instructors Darrin Doyle and Jeffrey Bean.

Daryl and the Beans concluded the night with its performance of several songs including covers of "Cum On Feel The Noize" by Slade, and "Poor Little Thing" by the Broken Family Band.

Fillmore read multiple poems that were both comedic and dark. Her selection included a series of haikus titled "Michigan" and a newer version of a poem that will printed in this semester's edition of the Central Review called, "Aubude."

Clark is an established poet with four volumes of poetry published, the latest being, "Sunday Rising."

One of Clark's poems, "Flys," came about from a time she looked up her family's history and found out her grandfather's mother had died giving birth to him.

"This was a beautiful story and he never told us it," she said. "It explains why he was grumpy and a little mean at times."

To Clark, a misconception of poets is that they are more introspective than most people.

"It's a myth that (poets) have deep thoughts and they just don't," Clark said. "Everyone thinks these things, but a poet is a person who makes it a habit of writing their thoughts down."

Despite attend for a class assignment, Pontiac senior Marlita Gamble said she was surprised at how much she enjoyed herself.

"All the poetry was awesome. The band, which included my professor, was amazing and, quite frankly, much better than I originally thought," Gamble said. "I can't wait to go to more Wellspring readings next year that are not for class."

Fanning said he is already planning for next year's series and expects the first reading to be in October. He said information will be on the Art Reach website closer to the fall.