Writers to tell narratives of power, violence


Benny Garbacz

The Ore Dock Brewing Co. will host its monthly literary reading “Bards & Brews” at 7 p.m. tonight, Nov. 16 with the theme “Unquieting: Power, violence, and narratives that refuse to stay silent.” The event will feature NMU English professor Rachel May reading her nonfiction essays and poetry by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Caitlin Scarano.

This event, which is held every third Thursday of each month under a new theme, exposes community members to creative writing of all genres and gives them a chance to engage with each other in the arts while enjoying a few drinks. What started as a poetry reading three years ago has spanned to include all forms of writing and now works with the NMU
English department.

“‘Bards & Brews’ has made creative reading so accessible to the local community,” said Lizzie Corser, the Ore Dock taproom and events manager.

Corser is glad to have this event because it allows writers to interact with patrons, who enjoy live entertainment and literature, she said. They get the chance to meet writers face-to-face. The Ore Dock Brewing Co. established itself intending to be an inclusive space, and events such as “Bards & Brews” are what make it that, Corser said.

“The brewery was founded on quality of beer and community,” she said. “We need to make sure our beer is quality and that the community has something to look forward to while at our bar. The environment is not intimidating like a classroom; it’s somewhere you can relax and be yourself.”

“Bards & Brews” is organized by NMU English grad student Alex Clark, who invited the writers out of particular interest given their creative work and how it reflects upon current cultural and political events.

“Both explore themes not often talked about; the narrators of their pieces hardly ever get a voice it so seems,” Clark said.

Given the hard-hitting theme for this “Bards & Brews,” Clark expects that the writers will be emotionally driven and foresees a somber tone in their narratives.

“I’m looking forward to how the works echo in contrast with each other,” Clark added. “The readers are really talented in speaking in these particular voices.”

One of the writers, May, will be reading for her first time at “Bards & Brews” and has chosen to share parts from a book she has been working on. She has gone to several of the events beforehand and has always waited for the opportunity to partake in the performance.

“It’s going to be fun,” May said. “I haven’t read any of the book I’m going to be presenting publicly, so it will be nice to share something I’ve worked on for three years.”

May’s book is a creative nonfiction story inspired by an archive she has explored for six to seven years. It is about a white family that lived in Providence, Rhode Island and Charleston, South Carolina. Parallel to this tale is a story of the slaves they owned in Charleston. May tries to put together what the lives of these people were like, how their interactions may have been and what that meant given the context of the time period of the early to mid-1800s, she explained.

“I think the oppression of then is still being felt today,” she said. “The ways we continue to let it happen today is a direct link to what has happened in the past, and it must be discussed. The thread of the past is connected to the present, after all.”

“Bards & Brews” is free and open to all ages. Audience members can buy a drink and listen and learn from these voices that are “unquieting.”