Kate Clark, 11, and her prepared poem, "In the Life of a Rose." (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

A small group gathered Friday evening at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center for Word Salad, an open mic night where writers could read selections of their poetry and prose. Six writers took to the mic to share their pieces.

The RoundTable’s Les Jacobson read a selection from his upcoming novel. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

The Evanston RoundTable’s own Les Jacobson was the first to read and shared the beginning of chapter six of his novel, The Dream Machine, a time travel story from a future dystopian Chicago.

Eleven-year-old Kate Clark read what she said is her best poem, In the Life of a Rose.

An excerpt: “Roses come into the world when the time is spring, / when they are little they curl inward, / as if fearing their new life that will come to them when older.”

Clark told the RoundTable that she was sitting in class and had some spare time when she decided to start writing. She showed her poem to her friends and then started taking requests.

She has written five poems total, even one about kittens at the request of her friend. It was her first time reading in front of anyone besides her friends and family, but she said she was not too nervous.

Vaughan Nesslar reads selections from her work, “They Could Only be Irish.” (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Vaughan Nesslar read selections from her final project at DePaul University, “They Could Only be Irish.” Nesslar went back to college when she was 52 years old and received a degree in Irish Culture.

Her work focuses on her Irish family, their land in Ireland and immigration narratives.

Nichols Middle School student Harper Kodish, 14, reads one of three poems. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Fourteen-year-old Harper Kodish read three poems: I give myself one moment for pause, My name and A defective toy.

An excerpt from the first of those: “I say what I need to to not just survive but to thrive, / to leave an impact on you, / I give myself one moment to pause. / I do it so when I’m at the root cause I won’t get tongue-tied / there will be no moment you will be allowed to hold your applause.”

Kodish said she has always enjoyed writing but was encouraged to participate in Word Salad by her language arts teacher at Nichols Middle School, Elaine Purnell.

“I am so proud of her writing,” said Purnell, who attended. “I think her poems are phenomenal. She had the opportunity today to express some of what I see all of the time. I would like to see her published.”

The youngest of four children, Kodish recently moved to Evanston from Boston and said that although she was not happy about the move, writing provides an outlet for her.

“It is a really great way for me to get all of my emotions out,” she said.

Mya Wilkins and her son Henry, 5, read poems together in front of the group. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Mya Wilkins and her son Henry, 5, both read poems at Word Salad. Mya is an avid writer and noticed Henry had recently taken an interest. He read a short poem entitled, Gold, while Wilkins read a poem about her relationship with motherhood.

From Wilkins’ work: “Babies growing, age 5, 8, then 10 / girls to women, boys to men / diapers, car seats, baby gear / blink your eyes, there goes a year.”

Joyy Norris reading from her published book of poems, Ode. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Joyy Norris shared a poem from her published poetry book, Ode. She said that she was a bit more lovesick when the book came out in 2015 than she is now, which influenced her poem, Reason be damned.

Stacia Campell reads one of her three prose pieces. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Stacia Campbell closed out the event with prose pieces she said she worked on during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she made a goal to write every day for 15 minutes. She has a book coming out shortly.

The next Word Salad event will be hosted this fall.

Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at sam@evanstonroundtable.com and...

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