Creative spirits to gather online

Contributed photoPoets read at Perks Coffee last week. In light of the pandemic, host Brittany Lisa Carey (not shown here) is attempting to put up a digital meeting with Zoom.

Brittany Lisa Carey is no stranger to self-isolation. At the age of 12 she was diagnosed with a very rare kind of cancer that causes tumors to grow around her brain and spine, the treatment of which severely compromised her immune system. Recently, she was in the hospital, but was sent home after the outbreak of the coronavirus because, she said, they were afraid of her contracting the virus. Now, she is at home in North Tonawanda taking it day-by-day.

To get through all the adversary in her life, she said it was through poetry and the poetry community which gave her a home and a place to wrestle with her demons. Now she's trying to put together an online community of several spoken word and visual artists online to take the place of the events held at coffee-houses and bars.

"We're still running Poetry at Perks, it runs every other Wednesday," Carey said. "We're actually working, right now, to see if we can have a virtual conference through Zoom, so we can still provide that service to the community. It's so hard in times like this where you're so isolated, especially with, you know, everybody knows that most artists have mental health issues and other issues. It's really important to have that community to be able to keep things together."

She said, this new crisis could be the challenge to inspire an ongoing platform for poets and could include workshops, as well as readings, online. This, Carey said, could help artists now and in the future, to connect online with other artists who could be feeling a lot of anxiety and isolating themselves in an unhealthy way.

"It's very dual, I think a lot of us fall into that isolation category from the get go, but that's just because that's kind of how we're born into our art," she said. "Then we start to come out into the community and we find homes there, and that's the reason I took such a major interest in Perks because I wanted to create a home for people who didn't know how to have one, and didn't know how to be a part of that social structure, because they were so isolated to it growing up.

"They thought they were the weird kids and could never do anything with it."

To pay for the venture, Carey hopes that "Perks merch" will sell enough to cover the bill.

"Right now we're creating little things like stickers and pens," she said. "We're working towards building it up more. We want a bigger community, we want a bigger home. We want to do big things, like bring those out-of-town poets back, and those are things that take money, of course."

Through this crisis, Carey had some advice.

"I think it's most important to remember, sometimes you have to take a step backward to go forward," she concluded. "It's hard to do that, especially when everything is so panicked, because you're not going to be able to live the part of your life that you want. You start destroying it, because you don't know what else to do. But I think it's really important to remember, if you don't take care of the time that you have, then there isn't going to be any time in the future for you to bother with."

More can be found on the Facebook page: Poetry At Perks.

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