Off the Clock - Revival of the Poetry Club at the University of Missouri

Feb 16, 2017

Credit Rebecca Siegel / Flickr

The doors to Gwynn Hall keep locking behind Autumn McLain. She called maintenance, but in the meantime she is stretching to hold both doors open with her body. She is 20 minutes early to the MU Poetry Club meeting.

The group had fizzled out, but McLain and a group of friends brought it back in late January. Their first meeting was small, said McLain, just a few friends meeting in the library. Now, the club has grown to include people from majors including journalism and computer science.


“I wanted to expand it out to make people who weren’t writers, and maybe weren’t even that big of readers of poetry feel welcome, even if they’re just like, “Poetry seems like a cool thing,”” said McLain. “I want them all to come and be able to experience poetry.”

The format of the poetry club meetings is loose. Everyone brings a poem to read based around a specific theme. Some people bring poems by their favorite writers, others bring their own original work to get feedback from the group.

English major Olivia Bertels is friends with McLain, and said she uses the poetry club to workshop poems she hasn’t shared aloud before.

“When [McLain] told me that there was a chance to force people to listen to me read my poetry, I was like, ‘I need to get in on that,’” said Bertels.

Bertels said she was grateful to have a space to get feedback and share poetry with a community.

“It’s kind of a bummer to be like, I really like this, and I’m not ever going to talk about it with anyone,” said Bertels.

McLain said she hoped the group continues to grow so that more people can have the chance to read, write and critique poetry in Columbia.

The MU Poetry Club meets every Sunday at 5:30 pm in Gwynn Hall on Mizzou’s campus.