The Younger American Poet Reading Series hosted its second reading last Thursday at Beaverdale Books. The reading featured Kyle McCord and Wendy Xu, who coordinate the series, and also hosted Matt Guenette from Madison, Wis. The event was free and open to the public. The poets read for about 20 minutes each to a crowd of more than 25 at the small venue.
McCord discussed how important it is to have organizations like YAPRS in the Drake community.
“YAPRS gives students and people in the Drake community the chance to engage writing, to see it in action and a place to go to hear poetry,” McCord said. “It’s also a good opportunity for YAPRS to give back to the community by bringing in these poets.”
“Writing will always be a community thing, it’s not singular,” Xu added. “It’s invaluable to hear poetry out loud and have the firsthand interpretation of the poet’s work.”
The readings also give the poets themselves an opportunity to both share and improve their work.
“I want to hear my poetry out loud to see what the reaction will be,” McCord said.
Xu agreed and said it is also a great time to try out new poems and work out things she is unsure of.
As well as getting involved in the Drake community by offering these readings, YAPRS offers an opportunity for two interns to be in on the process. Shaina Mugan and Vladislav Frederick serve as interns who take care of the ‘behind the scenes’ work for the series. Mugan commented on why she wanted to intern for YAPRS.
“I recently had the pleasure of introducing poet Matt Guenette at the last reading,” Mugan said. “I chose this internship because poetry is a passion of my own and it has provided an opportunity for me to discover new poets and advocate for this art in my own community. My own public readings are few, so with this I finally have a concrete way to get people involved.”
Frederick got involved after taking an introductory poetry class at Drake. He encourages students to check out the next reading for more than just the art purposes.
“The readings are enjoyable not only for English majors, you can enjoy the comedy and the feel of the poetry,” he said. “It’s also good for networking and getting your name out there.”
“I think that getting involved in the arts is what is going to perpetuate YAPRS success in Des Moines, a success that needs to be broadened,” Mugan said. “Without active participants in what our community is trying to bring us, the scene will not flourish like it should.”
She added that many of the artists that come to YAPRS are notable and even award-winning.
The next YARPS reading is Thursday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at Beaverdale Books featuring Iowa’s Poet Laureate, Mary Swander, Ezekiel Black and Seth Abramson.