Ames Poetry Revival: A space to experience and share spoken word poetry


Joshua Oren

The top performers from April’s poetry slam at Lockwood Cafe. Artwork created and donated by Jordan Arp.

Ames Poetry Revival is a spoken word poetry group that represents so much more than poetry. Members said they experience a unique and exciting environment they can’t get anywhere else.

“You never know what people are gonna share,” said Joshua Oren, emcee. “You never know how it’s gonna make you feel.”

Ames Poetry Revival welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to participate. They hold poetry slams that take place on the first Tuesday of every month, and they collaborate with Reliable Street and Lockwood Cafe, where the event is usually held.

“It’s a fantastic place to see and be seen in Ames,” said A’ja Lyons, poetry slam attendee.

Ames Poetry Revival seeks to discover local artists and poets. Oren emphasizes that anyone who’s interested in performing should not hesitate to get involved. He said participants do not have to be in a certain major or have poetry experience; what matters is if they feel like they want to share something in front of a microphone.

“Anybody can walk in,” Lyons said. “There’s space for everybody.”

Listening is just as important as performing, and people who are interested in just listening are more than welcome.

Ginnia Kovach, a regular poet who donates her art pieces, highlights the importance of listening to others. She said attending these events has given her the chance to listen in a new and special way and how it has benefited her as a person.

“It’s an opportunity to share, which feels really good, but it’s also an opportunity to listen in a way that you can’t do in a lot of other contexts,” Kovach said.

Lyons said her experience with Ames Poetry Revival has been nothing but positive. The group encompasses a strong sense of community, support and friendship

“It’s a place to sit and be amongst people who are enjoying what other people in the community have created,” Lyons said.

If someone wants to participate in a Poetry Slam, the standard is to bring in two pieces that are each three minutes long. Three judges are selected at random before each event. Oren explained there are no criteria, simply how a poem comes across and how it is interpreted.

“It’s really cool to see that someone said something that’s inspired someone to move to change,” Oren said.

The top three scorers receive prizes that consist of art donated by local artists, and Oren said there have been some beautiful pieces. Third place gets to have first pick of prizes, then second place and then first place. Ames Poetry Revival uses this system to create a less competitive environment that encourages a variety of people to share their work.

“It’s not the people who get first place or second or third consistently, but it’s the one who shares a poem that really resonates with people and causes them to come back and share their poetry,” Oren said. “You can’t put a value on that.

Ames Poetry Revival offers endless support and encouragement. Ginnias favorite part about this group is the community aspect it gives.

“It’s a unique way of connecting with people,” Kovach said.

Ames Poetry Revival is more than happy to have anyone interested in performing or listening at their events and welcomes all ages. Participants can sign up at 7:30 p.m. and the performances start at 8 p.m.