The Brightside: Empowering people through poetry

SALISBURY, Md. – At some point in our lives, we all turn to poetry for a source of comfort and understanding.

Poetry has the power to change people or give people a sense of empathy. That’s something Nancy Mitchell knows all too well.

Mitchell said, “Other kinds, like scholastic writing, many times it makes you think. Poetry makes you feel and think, but it makes you feel first.”

Mitchell, who’s been writing poetry for decades, is the City of Salisbury’s first ever Poet Laureate. That means she writes about big events in the city and encourages other people to be brave and put pen to paper.

Mitchell said, “What I want to do is bring the community together in shared spaces.”

Mitchell has gotten everyone from a Salisbury University student, to the City Council President to participate in something she calls Poets on the Plaza.

The pandemic has forced Mitchell to change the way she does things. Instead of reading on the plaza, people are now sharing their poems virtually from wherever they’d like, and there’s an advantage to this. People from beyond just Salisbury can now come onto Mitchell’s platform to share their work, helping Mitchell to spread poetry like wildfire.

Mitchell said, “I’m doing the best I can to bring as many poets from near and far together.”

During the month of September, these virtual readings have taken on a deeper meaning. In honor of Wicomico Goes Purple, a campaign that aims to raise awareness about the disease of addiction, Mitchell has been hosting something called Poetry and Recovery on Zoom.

“My first goal is to move hearts, to open hearts, and to raise awareness. To have people have empathetic experiences and to help others move out of the shadow of shame,” Mitchell explained.

This ties into what Mitchell is all about…making a difference with her writing, and transforming people at their core.

Mitchell said, “One of the great things about art is the transformation an artist goes through in order to make the thing. You, just by looking at it, reading it, hearing it, also experience that transformation. That’s what makes the culture evolve, that’s why we need artists.”

Mitchell is hosting these Zoom calls every Thursday at 7pm.

In October, Mitchell will be continuing with her virtual Poets on the Plaza series but next time around, she will be putting a focus on the gay pride movement.

Categories: Brightside, Local News, Maryland