After driving to Manhattan from Wichita, poet and creative writer Becca Yenser is asked by the host of “Drip Torch” at Arrow Coffee Co., “what’s your superpower?”
She then walks up to the mic, papers in hand.
“My superpower is living in Kansas and not killing myself so far,” Yenser said. “I’m from Oregon.”
On Friday, K-State English instructor Jason Teal hosted this semester’s “Drip Torch” event. Performers included K-State students and published authors who drove in to read their work at Arrow Coffee Co.
The event started with an open mic. The first reader was Grant Perry, who had been looking for an open mic in Manhattan.
Perry has had many interactions with the homeless population in Columbus, Georgia, and he is considering writing an anthology of conversations he’s had. One of his poems “Nice to Meet You” described one of his interactions.
“I think it really played into how difficult it is for some people just to get by,” Perry said. “The way that he talked about his life like hit me hard. When he was talking about his experience going to jail, getting out of jail and trying to make it.”
When the open mic portion was over, the featured readers came up, including Yenser, who teaches at Wichita State and is a fiction editor for the literary journal “Mikrokosmos.”
Yenser has spent lots of time vacationing, hiking and writing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She said when she is there, her mind clears to the point of pain.
This time inspired her poem “How to Forgive in the Desert,” which included this line:
“Remember, you will never be able to see the plateau and the canyon at the same time. When you are walking one way, you will only remember what is behind you. When you look behind, you will only guess what lies ahead.”
Another feature reader of the evening, Justin Hamm, drove in from Mexico, Missouri. Hamm’s works included poems about farmers at Hardee’s talking about how things have been, to more personal poems about his struggles with an eating disorder and his family.
“There’s been a cycle of violence in my family, going back,” Hamm said. “That’s not the only thing that defines who my mom was, and that’s not the only thing that defines who my grandpa was. They also had really great things about them.”
His work “The Inheritance,” describes a time when his grandfather took him out to look at a horse. He said his grandpa seemed so gentle then, and the horse seemed to think so too.
The poem then flips and says, “and yet, who do you think taught my mother to hit?”
When the feature readers were finished, the evening ended with another open mic session.
Sukaina Boabbas, senior in marketing, read a series of short poems she wrote, some of which she said was a conversation between herself and God.
“I guess the poems just come from a very passionate place,” Boabbas said. “Somewhere from deep inside, things that are difficult to express. It’s a form of release.”
Teal is interested in expanding “Drip Torch” to include not only creative writing and poetry but also music and spoken word performances.
“I would love to build this thing into multi-genre, medium stuff,” Teal said. “We’re trying to build more communal aspects to it because it’s great to bring people to a community, but also how do we make the community more interactive?”
While there will be no more “Drip Torch” events this semester, they will resume next semester and take place in February, March, and April. Anyone is welcome to come and perform.