The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Words and Waffles event takes place at SHIFT 

How a night of poetry can bring together a community
Photo by Elyse Braun
SHIFT holds this event annually for the students at CVTC as well as the community.

Words and Waffles, an annual poetry event, was held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7 at SHIFT Cyclery and Coffee Bar. The event was held in partnership with The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild and Chippewa Valley Technical College.  

The event centered on poetry and featured readings from a number of students currently taking communications and writing classes at CVTC, as well as a number of community members.

Evelyn Nelson, a barista at SHIFT, said that she was glad that the partnership between SHIFT and CVTC was revived.

“We actually used to host this event quite frequently with CVTC leading up to the pandemic,” Nelson said. “It feels kind of like a homecoming in that way, where we’ve held this event before, and it’s almost like we’re bringing in a new crowd.”

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Nelson, who helped in organizing the event, said SHIFT hosts events to create a sense of community for all people.

“It’s an all-ages space that accepts all walks of life, and also encourages us to learn new things about our community that we may have never recognized before,” Nelson said.

In terms of the event being all about poetry, Nelson said that poetry is an art that deserves to be celebrated. 

“I think that, in many ways, poetry and writing and creative expression through writing is an art in itself,” Nelson said. “So, if we as a community and as a city are ones to celebrate the arts, that writing is also included in that.”

A majority of the poets who chose to share their work belonged to a writing class held by Paul Reid at CVTC. Reid is a communication skills instructor at the college and has spent the semester teaching his students about poetry.

Reid, who has partnered with SHIFT for a number of years to hold this event, said that it gives his students real-world experience within the community.

“It gives them that real-world experience outside of the classroom,” Reid said. “They get to be out in a community doing something, interacting with the public.”

Reid said that, through poetry, people can learn and connect themselves to others.

“The more you read, the more you learn, the more you know,” Reid said. “Poetry is all about sharing, so you don’t just write poetry, you have to share it.”

Throughout the event, poets from both CVTC and the Eau Claire community were introduced to those in attendance and were given a microphone to share whatever they had written.

Brynn Casavant, one member of Reid’s writing class, shared a poem for other attendees of the event. The poem Casavant shared was an ode to her mother.

Casavant said that, regardless of the event going on, she loves the atmosphere she finds when coming to SHIFT.

“I love coming to SHIFT. It’s really fun to be here,” Casavant said. “It’s a good atmosphere to say your writings.”

Casavant said that the ode to her mother, which she wrote in her CVTC class, was inspired by the love she feels for her.

“It was just an ode about my mom and how much I love her,” Casavant said. “I chose to read it because my mom was here, and I thought she’d like to hear it.”

Casavant, in reflection, said that poetry is a bridge of communication for people who may not think similarly.

“I think it’s important because everybody perceives things differently and writes about their experiences differently,” Casavant said. “Being able to just hear what other people think and how they think about things is really important, just in general, to view the world.” 

Braun can be reached at [email protected].

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