Moth Danner, host of Cuplets at The Cup, said she has been moved to tears at almost every Cuplets event.
“Some people read some really intense stuff,” Danner said. “It's always heartfelt, and authentic and brave — [it’s] brave to share what you think ever, but especially to get up [on stage] and do it.”
Danner began hosting The Cup’s monthly poetry reading event nearly five years ago after the cafe’s owner, Martin George, mentioned to her The Cup was in need of an open-mic night. Danner said she thought the event was a creative addition to the cafe’s atmosphere.
“I think [Cuplets at The Cup] helps enhance the very ancient tradition of what a coffee shop is,” Danner said. “A cafe is a big part of intellectual culture and urban culture, and [cafes] always have been a place to share self expression.”
Every fourth Sunday, visitors fill The Cup’s booths and tables, drinking coffee and eating bagels and sandwiches while listening to others share a variety of written work.
“The infrastructure is the same, but it's different every time you come,” Danner said. “When I say everybody’s welcome, I don’t mean every poet. I mean literally everyone. This is a very inclusive event. You do not need to be actively writing poetry to participate.”
At previous Cuplets events, Danner said, audiences have ranged from a completely packed room of nearly 40 people to only 10 people, but those who do come don’t often leave in the middle of the event.
“There's some people who [have been] here for a few years,” Danner said. “Some move on. So, it’s a nice combination of both.”
Writing and reading poetry are two different skills, Danner said, and it’s not always likely someone will want to do both, so either option is available to those who attend the event.
“If you’ve written something and you’d like someone else to read it, I bet I know somebody who just wants to get on that stage,” Danner said. “If you want to get up there and read but you don’t want to read your work, I always bring a couple of poetry books, and your phone is a never-ending option of poetry books.”
Danner said she makes it her goal to add a few 10-minute breaks to each Cuplets event to encourage audience members to interact with one another.
“That's what I do — I bridge people,” Danner said. “I'm a chronic introducer. It's easy to feel isolated, even in a very connected world. It’s an endorphin hit to be with people.”
Tim Stewart, a Muncie community member who attended January’s Cuplets at The Cup event, read the first poem he had ever written to an audience of about 20 people. He said he wrote his poem about talking animals in the parking lot 45 minutes before the event started.
“This could either be my greatest triumph or my worst tragedy,” Stewart said.
His friend, Amanda Loper, a 2012 Ball State alumna, based her poem on her trip to the grocery store.
“Last night, something happened that gave me the inspiration I needed,” Loper said. “I was like, ‘This is my poem right here.’”
When Loper arrived at the grocery store looking for sugar cream pie, she said, she was disappointed to find none on the shelf.
“I can turn this into a light-hearted poem, and that’s what I wanted,” Loper said. “I want to have more fun and try not to cry when I sit on the stage.”
As a town “very good in arts and culture,” Danner said, she believes there are many avenues, like Cuplets at The Cup, for people to express themselves in Muncie.
“I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that poetry is like some old-fashioned thing,” Danner said. “Do you ever not sing along with songs? Somebody wrote that poem.”
Contact Taylor Smith with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @taynsmithh.