JOPLIN, Mo. – They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and at Spiva Center for the Arts’ 1000 Words event, you can control what those words will be.
Spiva encourages the community to visit the art center, choose one of the many photos on display at the Photo Spiva 2021 Exhibit and use it as inspiration to write a poem. Participants can also pick their photo prompt by visiting the virtual exhibit.
The poem will then be presented on Tuesday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Spiva Center for the Arts, located at 222 W. 3rd Street in Joplin.
The author of the poem can present their work, or they can designate someone else to present it. While each poem is being read, its inspiration photo is displayed by a projector near the reader.
Each poetry reading is recorded. After the event, a QR code is attached to every inspiration photo. Using a smartphone, the QR code takes visitors to a SoundCloud link of the correlating poem’s recording.
Exhibits Director Shaun Conroy says that the poem can be of any length, style and be written by anyone. He recalls an eight-year-old participant who wrote a poem in a past year.
“If he can do it, anyone can do it, right?” asked Conroy.
Conroy says that the poetry is “always very good” and that the event never goes longer than 45 minutes, so it’s a “very pleasant poetry reading.”
“It’s an enjoyable event hearing people’s perspectives of what they took away from a photo that they saw,” he said.
He also says it’s rewarding for a writer to get feedback from an audience and to practice reading out loud.
Conroy created this event 11 years ago after having an idea to inspire his college poetry class.
In Conroy’s class, the students were always given prompts. Conroy proposed to the professor that the class meet at Spiva Center for the Arts for artistic inspiration, and they ended up having a poetry reading. The event has grown and taken place every year since then, besides 2020.
“We try to do things to keep from being too static here… Trying to figure out ways to make exhibits more interactive,” Conroy said.
To participate in the event, visit Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin or check out the virtual exhibit.