Listen and be heard.

Hive Poetry Project is about people getting together to write, read, listen and be heard.

Telling and listening to stories is timeless and essential to being human. At one time we sat together in a circle around the fire to talk and listen. Now, we read books, see plays and musicals and go to the movies to have stories told to us. Being read to as a child is an essential part of growing up. But how often do we tell our own story? How many of us think our story is worth telling?

Writing, whether it’s about your life, a fictional story, or poetry, is about letting inspiration take you on a journey. With an open mind and an open heart, you’ll wind up in unexpected places when you follow the narrative where it wants to take you. Straightforward or surreal, dead serious or hilarious, or all of that at the same time, writing can be about anything. Small, seemingly mundane experiences can often bear the greatest fruit when you allow for the unexpected and give the moment of writing our full attention.

Writing is usually a solitary occurrence, but spoken word is a communal experience. Both are necessary. We all need to feel connected, but listening to, reading, and watching other people tell their stories is only part of it. We also need to be heard. When we’re no longer mere observers and honor ourselves enough to read or recite our stories and poetry to an audience, the circle of connection is completed and a feeling of isolation becomes impossible.

For all our technology and mediums of connection these days there also seems to be a pervasive sense of disconnect. Through the Workshop, I help young people find their voices, share their stories, and dispel the myth that writing and spoken word is only for a select, talented few. 

I’ve done classes with refugee and immigrant teens and adults, at-risk youth, and people in recovery. I’ve seen the power of poetry to open people up, help them move through difficult emotions and discover new truths about themselves. 

I have a love for bees and how they work together to ensure survival. Hive is a word for community: the poetry reading is a supportive hive where everyone makes sure that we each have a say. As the world population grows and the global culture keeps moving forward with technology and social media, it becomes more and more important to connect face-to-face. That kind of connection awakens compassion in our hearts, and compassion is the foundation of a loving and peaceful world. I have learned the power of listening and being heard over the years, and it’s a gift I want to give back wherever and to whoever I can.

Mike Nelson