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Art Reach hosts talent at Wellspring Literary Series


Central Michigan University music professors Joanna (left) and Kennen (right) of the Crescent Duo perform at the Mount Pleasant Art Reach's Literary Series event on March 2 in downtown Mount Pleasant.

Language cut and music soared through the audience in The Art Reach of Mid Michigan Building Monday night. The show, which blended poetry and music into a vivid hour-long variety show, was part of the Wellspring Literary Series, which is in its sixth year.

The Crescent Duo, comprised of Central Michigan's own music faculty Judith and Kenna White performed musical interludes between poetry readings. They also performed to accompany poetry read by host and english faculty Jeffrey Bean.

The duo kicked off the night by playing a John Rutter blues movement.

"We know poets love the blues," Kennan said before the clarinet-flute duo began.

Student poet Haley McNickel began the poetry section of the show with several visceral poems, all of which used the nature of human imperfection to communicate feelings and fears.

One piece, "Apierophobia," focused on a fear of infinity. The vastness of the number and the implications of forever were used to create a horror story for the audience.

In "Titles are for Squares," she used jarring imagery and unsettling language to denounce traditional poetic conventions.

Award-winning poet Diane Suess read from her collection, which chronicled her experiences with love and introspection as a child.

Some of her pieces were from 2010 new poetry collection titled Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open while others were from the upcoming book Four Legged Girl.

"I did some soul-searching when I was a kid," Suess said. "And then I turned five."

Suess would go on to perform several pieces about living at the bottom and having to work jobs that brought forth intense imagery when described. She described how a man had called her "ravaged" at age 21 and how she doesn't strive to the conventional standards for beauty, opting instead to follow her own path.

Her piece "Beauty Was Over" payed homage to poet Lucille Clifton, who was born with 12 fingers. The late Clifton won the National Award for Poetry in 2000 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

Suess' humor and realistic language entertained members of the student audience.

St. Claire Shores senior Nate Zinzi applauded her unique tone.

"She had a great voice and an awesome presence," Zinzi said. "She was very conversational."

Prose writer and amateur poet Kate Velguth, who is currently dual-enrolled in CMU classes through Mount Pleasant High School, found the structure of the show compelling. Velguth, whose fiction has been published in Menacing Hedge, Acapella Zoo and The Washington Square Review, enjoyed the unique combination of art mediums during the show.

"I thought it was awesome," Velguth said. "I really loved the mix of music and poetry. There's more than one way to tell a story."