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New poetry reading series to focus on array of topics

Paging Columbus is calling the community together for a night of poetry Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Ohio State Urban Arts Space. The new literacy series is taking place on the first Thursday of every month and will focus on different forms of writing.

Hannah Stephenson, the event curator and an OSU alumna, said the purpose of the event is to read private writings aloud. The event will not only focus on poetry, but feature a range of writing forms from arts and culture blogging to journalism.

“There is such a great community of writers,” Stephenson said. “I also wanted it to be clear that it’s local artists.”

The OSU Urban Arts Space sets a tone for the readings, Stephenson said. She said the first night of the series is a “celebration of poetry in an arts space.”

“I hope we see that writing is a form of art,” Stephenson said. “It’s a beautiful space. It’s got such a great feeling.”

Stephenson said Paging Columbus’ name is a call out to nerds to answer their pagers and join a community of writers. Stephenson said she hopes writers will be inspired by one another and audience members will take something new with them when they leave.

“I think that many artists are inspired by poets and vice versa,” Stephenson said. “I want it to be fun and engaging.”

Stephenson and three other OSU alumni, Maggie Smith, Jason Gray and Jen Town, will be reading poetry Thursday night.

Stephenson said she will be reading more playful poems and making pop culture references, including a “Jersey Shore” poem.

Stephenson said she wants to bring together areas of writing by doing something she enjoys.

“It’s my favorite thing to read with other authors,” Stephenson said.

Gray said reading poems aloud is an enjoyable experience because he gets to connect with the audience.

“It’s nice to be a part of the community,” Gray said.

Gray said Stephenson asked him to read at the event. While the four readers might not have anything in common, they are all friends and respect each other, Gray said.

“(Stephenson) wanted to start a new series to showcase the city’s artists,” Gray said.

Gray said he hopes patrons will take a favorable opinion of poetry with them.

Katie Poole, OSU Urban Arts Space student outreach assistant and third-year in English, said Paging Columbus is unique because it focuses on poetry and writing in an arts space. Poole said the program will not only show viewers something new, but it will also include something new for the poets and writers.

“It’s great because they are focusing on the writing as art,” Poole said. “It’s different because it’s going to be a teaching experience for the people involved.”

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