Stage Fright is a monthly Open-Mic-Night for, about, and lead by TEENS at Hugo House!
It is the place to be if you feel like being surrounded by inspirational writing AND writers. It takes place one Wednesday of every month in the Hugo House Cabaret and includes snacks, snaps, and snazzy MCs from the Young Writers Cohort. The environment is incredibly warm, welcoming, and had a palpable WOW-Factor as the writers got rolling, voicing their work for everyone to hear. Oh! And don’t worry about getting nervous or even stumbling over a word or two! It’s all expected, Ramon Isao (a Young Writers Cohort teacher as well as an adult classes teacher at Hugo House) even said “Nervousness is a good thing… it means you’re sharing something that means something to you.”
If you’re feeling a bit hesitant, Hugo House offers a teens-specific program called Write Time from 6-7pm every Wednesday. You can take in your work or write something while you’re there and receive feedback from other teens and renowned poet Karen Finneyfrock (the facilitator of Write Time). If you're lucky you might be invited to participate in another great opportunity - Stage-Fright-Wednesdays, where Hugo House asks their guest writers to help facilitate Write Time!
And if you’re STILL feeling unprepared, you can always join Hugo House in their 2017, two weeks, teen-specific, Summer writing camp: Scribes Writing Camp. This way, you feel TOTALLY prepared to read at Stage Fright by the time it rolls around! Also, isn’t sharing the art that makes our toes curl and our tummies fill with bubbling butterflies what makes creating art so much fun?!?! Hearing the teens pieces, it became obvious this was an environment where voices of all types could openly be heard. Diverse writings were presented and received with open, listening hearts: political pieces, innately personal pieces, realism and sci-fi short stories, poetry, fiction, journals, songs, comedy routines, art, and more!
The support and love for the arts just radiated through the teens and adults in the room making sharing almost irresistible - I even had to jump up on stage myself to share a tidbit of poetry!
The guest writer for Stage Fright when I went was Quenton Baker (featured in the photo below), the author of the forthcoming poetry book “This Glittering Republic." Quenton shared four poems with the teens - and let me tell you - the AWE was real in that room! Afterward, two teens in the Young Writers Cohort program at Hugo House were wonderful enough to talk with me about their experience at the teen-specific programs at Hugo House. Brooks Bumstead and Adesuwa Agbonile spoke up about the community that the programs have helped them find. Brooks mentioned that prior to Hugo House’s teen events he didn’t know many passionate young writers or how to go about finding them. Adesuwa went on to explain how the programs at Hugo House have pushed and inspired her to strive for better and better work.
To be honest, I couldn’t think of a place I would have rather spent my Wednesday night. To be present and supportive of fellow lovers of art is a magical feeling, and I would 100% recommend Hugo House’s Stage Fright to any and all teens looking for laughter, love, and lots of receptive ears! The next Stage Fright will take place on January 18th. Be there or be square.
P.S. I’ve included some poems from a couple of teens at Hugo House below! You should make sure to check them out - I promise you won’t regret it!
Quenton Baker reading at November's Stage Fright
By Megan Jenkins
At night, the sky always feels
This April, the sun’s
going to be in retrograde.
Try to watch
for the day when I’ll
drown beneath the streetlights.
When I was young,
my mother taught me to lie in the street when it rained.
She liked to warn me about the day
when the asphalt would turn to water
and we’d be the only ones
who knew how to float.
By Sydney Hausherr
ed rests in the armchair opposite of me
an emerald coffee mug sits on the end table next
examining my movement
from across a familiar living room
waiting for me to lift the mug from the end table
and press it against my lips to consume what’s inside
he waits for me to panic
he does this every time
i glance around the room ed and i are situated in
recognizing different shades of green and red
i know i’ve never brought him here
this is my grandmother’s house
ed is bringing himself closer to me now
i’m surrounded by the smell of death
his eyes flick back and forth between
my sweaty forehead and the cold cup of coffee
his breath nauseates me from feet away
from inches away
he knows i am exhausted
he knows i am starving
he knows i just want a fucking sip
i know he’ll never allow that here
an emerald coffee mug sits on the end table next to me
ed rests his molding skull in my lap
beside my thin and trembling fingers
ready to sink his crippled teeth
into my knuckles and chew
until my hands bleed the sand and acrylic
my shattered body is made of
i am the blue and orange stained-glass cathedral window
i am the infected papercut from your favorite stephen king novel
i am the latex glove shielding your fingers from the rotting vomit
you were forced to scrub off the bathroom floor
that was my rotting vomit
ed shoves his unkempt index finger into my mouth
feeling around my mandibular cuspids
he scratches at the back of my tongue and whispers
different flavors of birthday cake to my deflated stomach
i’m almost fulfilled by the taste of decay
and strawberry icing
ed dips his saliva drenched finger into the cold
coffee and dares me to sample it
i lean towards him
aiming my lips at his bleak and gray hands
he knows i just want a fucking sip
P.S.S. Sydney Hausherr is a local teen who is currently working on HER OWN POETRY BOOK entitled "Saltwater." This book is a personal exploration of Sydney's experience with Mental Health and Self-Harm as a young adult. "ED" is an excerpt from "Saltwater" and if you would like to read more, contact the artist, or SUPPORT SYDNEY then CLICK HERE! CHEERS TO SENDING LOVE AND SUPPORT TO YOUNG ARTIST EVERYWHERE!
Sydney Hausherr reading at November's Stage Fright
Review by Sofia Raquel