Word Salad: Evanston’s writing community gathers for an evening of poetry and prose


A small group gathered Friday night at the Arts Cultural Center in Noyes for Word Salad, an open-mic night where writers could read selections of their poetry and prose. Six writers took the microphone to share their pieces.

The Jacobsons of the Round Table read a selection from his forthcoming novel. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

The Jacobsons of the Evanston Round Table were the first to read and share the beginning of chapter six of his novel, “The Dream Machine,” a time travel story of a dystopian future Chicago.

Eleven-year-old Kate Clark read what she said was her best poem, ‘In the Life of a Rose’.

An excerpt: “Roses come into the world when it’s spring, / when they are small, they withdraw into themselves, / as if they fear their new life which will come to them as they grow older.”

Clark told the panel that she was sitting in class and having some free time when she decided to start writing. She showed her poem to her friends and then started taking requests.

She wrote five poems in total, including one about kittens at her friend’s request. It was her first time reading in front of anyone other than her friends and family, but she said she wasn’t too nervous.

Vaughan Nesslar reads from his work, “They Could Only Be Irish”. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Vaughan Nesslar read selections from his final project at DePaul University, “They Could Only Be Irish”. Nesslar returned to university at the age of 52 and earned a degree in Irish culture.

Her work focuses on her Irish family, their land in Ireland and stories of immigration.

Harper Kodish, 14, a student at Nichols Middle School, reads one of three poems. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Harper Kodish, 14, read three poems: ‘I’m taking a moment to pause’, ‘My name’ and ‘A faulty toy’.

An excerpt from the first of them: “I say what I need not just to survive but to thrive, / to leave an impact on you, / I give myself a moment to pause. / So I do it when I’m root cause I won’t be mute / there won’t be any time you’ll be allowed to hold back your applause.

Kodish said she had always enjoyed writing, but was encouraged to participate in Word Salad by her language arts teacher at Nichols Middle School, Elaine Purnell.

“I’m so proud of his writing,” said Purnell, who was in attendance. “I think his poems are phenomenal. She had the opportunity today to express some of what I see all the time. I would like to see it published.

The youngest of four children, Kodish recently moved from Boston to Evanston and said that while she wasn’t happy with the move, writing provides her with an outlet.

“It’s really a great way for me to vent all my emotions,” she said.

Mya Wilkins and her son Henry, 5, read poems together in front of the group. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Mya Wilkins and her son Henry, 5, both read poems at Word Salad. Mya is an avid writer and noticed that Henry had recently taken an interest in it. He read a short poem called “Gold”, while Wilkins read a poem about her relationship with motherhood.

From Wilkins’ work: “Growing babies, ages 5, 8, then 10 / girls to women, boys to men / diapers, car seats, baby gear / blink, there’s a year.”

Joyy Norris reading an excerpt from her published book of poems, ‘Ode’. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Joyy Norris has shared a poem from her published poetry book, “Ode.” She said she was a little more lovesick when the book came out in 2015 than she is now, which influenced her poem, “Reason be damned.”

Stacia Campell reads one of her three prose pieces. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Stacia Campbell closed the event with pieces of prose she said she worked on during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she set a goal to write for 15 minutes every day. She has a book coming out soon.

The next Word Salad event will take place this fall.

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