Storytellers unite as Poets of NEPA hold first StorySlam at Bart & Urby’s in Wilkes-Barre
Storytelling can take many forms. It can be used to entertain, to impart wisdom, to drive home a point or to illustrate an example of the human condition, but one thing is constant when stories are told. People relate to each other through mutual sentiment and understanding of life’s trials.
A group of 11 courageous storytellers took the stage in front of an audience of around 60 ranging in age from early 20s to 60s Jan. 21 at Bart & Urby’s in Wilkes-Barre, willing to share a little piece of themselves as Poets of NEPA held its first StorySlam with the theme “Good Intentions.” The spoken word open mic invited poets, writers, comedians, anyone who appreciates the art of the story, to share a true tale of good intentions gone wrong. Audience members were encouraged to rank stories, and the top three word weavers were awarded.
Monica Simon, founder of Poets of NEPA, took the stage first to break the ice. She shared a story of dating gone awry, when she and a potential companion had different expectations. She speckled a touching tale with comedy, before delivering the moral that “there was beauty in the intent.”
Alicia Kulick of Springbrook took a more poetic approach to storytelling, letting her story play out in artful verses. She shared a dark yet thoughtful reflection of love in flux, bravely checkering her piece with vulnerability for an “eternal cosmic love” before ending on a hopeful note, an air of optimism toward the power of love.
“I’m fun sometimes, but when I try to do something art related, I’m like, ‘Ugh, it has to be serious,’” Kulick said poking a bit of fun at herself. “These past two years of my life have been turbulent, and there’s been some stuff that’s been terrible but also a good catalyst for art, so I made the decision to keep it dark.”
Kyle Rebar of Honesdale delivered a hilarious tale about leaving his broom for a vacuum cleaner, structuring it as a romance. Giving his cleaning tools feminine names, and crooning about dancing among dust bunnies, he had the crowd convinced that he broke “Molly’s” heart before revealing that “Sheila” was a Shark brand vacuum. Rebar’s personification of inanimate objects was entertaining and original.
“I had only been thinking about it since this afternoon,” Rebar said. “I made a Facebook post about two weeks ago when I got my new vacuum cleaner, and I thought, ‘My broom is probably very sad,’ so I thought of it while I was driving from work in Honesdale to here.”
John Walton of Scranton usually performs as a comedian who delivers his jokes through telling stories, so to tell a comedic story was no long stretch for him. Walton’s recounting of a time when his sister insisted upon perming his hair had the sizable crowd laughing frequently. His efforts earned him first prize, a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble.
“As a comedian, what I do is pretty much edited story telling,” Walton said. “This one was more truth-like, and when you get used to writing comedy, you get used to your rhythm. I wasn’t trying to do stand-up. I was trying to do a story, but I almost felt like I had to be funny.”
Jess Meoni of West Scranton was a judge on the evening and closed out storytelling with two tales of her own. Events like StorySlam, she said, are vital to the artistic community in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“This is an important event, because it’s continuing to foster the creativity within the NEPA region,” Meoni said. “And there are so many people who need an outlet for this. They need a stage. Monica is just so charismatic, and she was a little nervous tonight, but she wanted the best for this and I know that with each attempt, it’s going to be amazing.”
Simon said her goals were to get people to relate to each other and artists to support one another, and she feels that was accomplished on a small scale.
“I think it went well,” Simon said. “A lot of people got up and shared stories, and I was surprised by it. I feel people felt welcome to get up there and do their own thing. For the first time, it was good.”
Future StorySlams are in the making according to Simon. Visit Poets of NEPA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/poetsofNEPA/?fref=ts to check for future dates and times.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected]