I had the wonderful fortune to go to and read at Ultreia Inc.'s writing event tonight, Ultreia INK: Write Night. It is located here in South Bend at a place called LangLab.
So, Ultreia Ink was awesome. It is a very cool not-for-profit group based in SB that does what it can to support the arts– every kind of art. LangLab is a building that they frequently use, and LangLab is the most incredible place I've ever been to. It's an old factory that is filled with open rooms that house artists doing things like pottery, sculpture, paper-making, music recording, wood-working, music-making, dancing, etc. There are spaces for everything - from a green room for bands to a coffee roaster to a place for people to crash to a place to keep the remnants of a beloved hometown shop. My inner child wanted to use the building for hide-and-seek or laser tag. The dumpster-diver in me wanted to rifle through all the old electronics and windows and miscellany. And the artist inside wanted to use the building itself for art. The building seemed to go on forever. Sometimes when I peeked into a room, I wouldn't see piles of computers or pipe holes peering down on the floor below. I would see the potential of the space. Of the things that have been accumulated. But, more importantly, I would see the potential of the people that gravitate towards it.
Of course, they do more than just house artists. Every week they have bands play. There is an art gallery that displays local art. There's a make-shift library in what is currently a make-shift salsa dance studio. Yoga classes are taught on Wednesday nights. Ultreia also hosts events, like the one I just went to. It is the kind of place that makes me want to offer what time and talent I can to help ensure its continued success and further its reach into the community. So, in short, LangLab is the epitome of the modern "underground" art scene. I only hope I can contribute more.
The event itself was very nice. My priest showed up, and it turns out we have a lot more in common than I thought (and, trust me, we already had a lot in common). We enjoyed the Zen Cafe coffee, had wonderful conversations with all sorts of people, and, of course, listened to great compositions. There were 10 readers, plus 2 impromptu competitors, making a total of 12 pieces. I enjoyed all the writers, though a few stuck out in my mind as particularly excellent (and no, I was not one of the excellent ones. If you know me, you know I always think my writing is sub-par). My favorite would be hard to pin down, but it would be between the poem about Muhammad Ali (entitled, "What's my name, fool?" by Lonnie Ray Atkinson) and the short poem by Chad Morgan without a name:
I don't write poems
I just write facebook statuses that have gone out of control.
(I'm sorry if I got it wrong, Chad, but I quite enjoyed all of your pieces!)
The only gripe I really have about the event is that the 3-minute time limit was not strictly adhered to... or even remotely adhered to. I would probably not have edited my piece down if I had known I could take more time on it. Of course, I just now realize that I forgot to give them my feedback card. Oh no! That means I'm going to have to visit again and drop it off. Deary me, whatever shall I do?