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

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