Within the course of the past three years it seems that Peoria is slowly emerging as a rather cultured city. For many students who can’t always make it out of the “Bradley bubble”, culture is finding its way back to campus in the form of poetry.
While it may not be known to all students, Bradley’s campus and the surrounding area coffee shops have played host to a number of different events featuring both nationally-known as well as local poets.
Jaclyn Weber, an English major at Bradley, has been a force within the student body to help get Bradley students to be more open to poetry by helping bring about these events.
Weber’s love for poetry started fairly recently, and her voice within the art was strengthened after taking a poetry workshop class here at Bradley.
“[Stein’s] class was such a great class for me, at least,” she said. “And then I feel like everybody else in the area started to want to do that.”
Weber’s roommate and Bradley alumnae Jasmin Garcia also credits the presence of students from California in helping push the visibility of spoken word in past years around Peoria due to the abundance of spoken word events back on the West Coast.
“Every night there’s an open mic somewhere,” Garcia said.
It was after Weber and Garcia met Peoria poet Brandon Thornton that the creation of the Java Talk poetry event came about. Weber and Thornton worked together on the first Java Talk, which was held at Broken Tree Coffee on Main Street in November. For a first time event, the turnout was pretty substantial.
But this is not the first poetry event Bradley has seen, nor will it be the last. Various multicultural groups have helped well-known poets make their way to campus, which gives students and community members a chance to get a feel for an art they may not be familiar with. In poetry terms, this is where the seed was planted.
Groups on campus like Writehouse Ink. help foster the writing environment, especially for those who may not be English majors. It has various writing days and feedback within the group that help keep the writing flow going.
Whisper and Shout is another poetry event held on the first Thursday of each month at the Peoria Contemporary Art Center. While it’s been established for a few years, the accessibility to the students in the area is somewhat more difficult due to the location and the pricing.
All of the ingredients for the spoken word have been here, Weber said. It was just a matter of timing for all the elements to come together.
Events like Java Talk help take all of these elements and combine them to let the Bradley community participate in an art that is coming to life in the area.
The next Java Talk is at 8:00 p.m. on March 1 at Bradley Leaves N Beans. This free event will feature Brittney Ferrero, Kelsey Phillis, Nichole Pientka, Shannon Shepherd and Taylor Soto in a ladies night reading.