Meet the poets of Shelby County
Published 11:21 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022
By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer
PELHAM – Poetry is popping in the Shelby County area.
A debut open mic poetry event occurred Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Pelham Library and proved that poets of Shelby County are here to stay.
An emerging poetry scene in Shelby County is growing, and resident poets are hoping to make a difference and make their voices heard.
Ashley Silver is a poet who attended the open mic event on Oct. 6. She said she hopes to continue to see the art of poetry thriving in the area.
Silver hosts a podcast with her husband who is a fellow creative, entitled “Gifted Autonomy” which discusses different aspects of creative life, the arts and gives a platform to other creatives in the area.
Silver was present at the poetry event at the Pelham Public Library on and hopes to see the scene flourish.
“I felt the event was groundbreaking, particularly in the Shelby County area where I’m not sure a lot of free, creative expression outlets exist,” Silver said. “It was just moving feeling the energy of other creatives and seeing them courageously speak from their souls, bearing their thoughts and feelings unabashedly for all to see. I hope more events will blossom from this one.”
Silver said she believes events like the one held at Pelham Public Library serve as a starting point for creatives in the county.
“I believe the open mic poetry event at the Pelham Library is just the cusp of the beneficial creative hub that can flourish here in Shelby County,” Silver said. “I hope that a seed was planted, which will make others take notice and support the creatives in their own backyard.”
Silver said it can be hard to grasp the Shelby County poetry scene and how big or little it truly is.
“It’s often difficult to discover who or what’s out there, aside from mere happenstance,” she said. “I’m a news editor/writer during the week, and I actually-perhaps in a predestined manner- saw an article advertising the event through the Newsbreak app from a Shelby County Reporter article while I was searching for completely unrelated news.”
Silver said it can take some searching to find the poets and creatives in the area.
“I say all this to illustrate, I believe you have to do a bit of digging to locate fellow creatives to connect with,” Silver said. “But, I feel we all meshed really well when given a platform to do so.”
Silver said she enjoys using these events as an opportunity to network and meet with other artists in the area.
“I love being able to witness the varied concepts, style and delivery of the poets at this most recent event,” Silver said. “I’ve added several poets from the event on social media, and I hope to expand our relationship into a cohort of individuals that encourage and support one another in their craft.”
Jamil Glenn hosted the event at the Pelham Public Library and is a poet and artist.
“As a poet, your art means the world,” Glenn said. “Your art is worth it. Arts are powerful.”
Glenn said he hopes to expand the poetry scene far beyond Shelby County.
“What I would like to see in Birmingham is the same thing I would like to see with Shelby County, Lamar County, Bibb County and all surrounding counties,” Glenn said. “A creative infrastructure, spaces for creatives to share their art freely, I really love poets that nobody has heard of before. I love connecting with poets.”
Glenn said he admires the art in small towns as well.
“I got a lot of family that has been in small towns like Suligent, Alabama and Fayette, Alabama,” Glenn said. “They have creatives that create art like poetry, hip hop and some singing. I love listening to artists and creatives in small towns that no one has ever heard of because I feel like they hold so much greatness and so much power. The south definitely has something to say.”
Lori Lasseter Hamilton is a poet who graduated from the University of Montevallo in 1991 and still draws inspiration from her time at Montevallo in her poetry today. She wrote a poem called “Ghost of Montevallo” and draws inspiration from her personal experiences.
“I would say what inspires me the most as a poet is that I feel led to tell the truth about my life and share my experiences as a woman,” Hamilton said. “I try to relate my experiences through the lens of feminist poetry that critiques our culture, criticizing things like the male gaze and the patriarchy.”
Hamilton is a breast cancer survivor and draws from that experience to better her poetry and spread her message to the world.
“It is heartbreaking to be a breast cancer survivor and have to deal with that kind of pressure, and feeling low self-esteem and feeling bad about my body because of that,” Hamilton said. “Strong women poets of the past such as the confessional poets Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, are two of the poets that inspire me the most.”
Jamil Glenn can be found @Poetjamil on Instagram, Facebook and all streaming platforms. Ashley Silver’s podcast can be found on Spotify and Apple Podcast. Lori Lasseter Hamilton can be found at Facebook.com/llhamslampoet1970.