April 13 2010 12:00 AM

Hope at the Center explores dealing with tragedy through poetry

    Poetry isn’t
    boring, and Melissa Dey Hasbrook is setting out to prove it. The Lansing local
    is presenting Hope at the Center at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 15 at (SCENE)
    Metrospace, a poetry show aimed at using the power of words to inspire and
    teach about sexual assault and domestic violence.

    “It’s going to
    be a multimedia performance, which means I’m incorporating some sound and image
    alongside some spoken-word,” Hasbrook ensures. “I’m calling it a poetry show
    instead of reading because I think people get this idea about poetry as this
    very passive, words-on-the-paper kind of thing.”

    Hope at the
    Center is anything but passive. The show will tackle difficult topics in honor
    of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, including recovery, inner strength and being
    a survivor.

    experienced all three, Hasbrook hopes that her poetry will help to heal others
    and convey part of her own life journey. “This set of poems is coming out of a
    project that deals with separation and migration,” she explains. “It’s in part
    inspired by my own family experience on my father’s side, and what the work
    does is that it arrives at a place of hope and healing which, to me, is very
    parallel to journeys of survivors.”

    Although the set
    of poems doesn’t deal specifically with domestic or sexual violence, Hasbrook
    says that the emotions are similar. “I happen to be a survivor of domestic and
    sexual violence, so to me, those processes of where you have to grapple with
    ongoing wounds … to arrive at a place where you are building life has a lot in common
    with that process that people go through after violence,” she says. “The
    healing process involved in (my poems) is something that had a lot in common
    with what Sexual Assault Awareness Month would hopefully convey.”

    More than share
    Hasbrook’s work, Hope at the Center will also raise funds for the Michigan
    Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, with half the proceeds from the
    show benefitting that organization.

    Poetry at the
    show will be intermingled with presentations by the coalition, as well as Take
    Back the Night and the Michigan State University Sexual Assault Program. Doors
    for the event open an hour prior to the show to afford attendees time to visit
    informational tables, and to talk to advocates.

    For Hasbrook,
    the issues have been familiar topics in her work and in events she has hosted.
    However, this will be the first time her work will benefit a nonprofit
    organization. “My work has brought poetry to community spaces on issues around
    violence and women,” she says, “but this is the first event I’ve where my
    poetry will be helping contribute toward their resources.”

    Hope at the
    Center will take place at (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles Street, East Lansing
    at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 15. Admission runs on a sliding scale of $5-10, based on
    ability to pay. For more information, visit