Ember Poets get fresh start

Photo Credit: Sophia Delmar


Sophia Delmar, Staff Writer

Ember Poets Undergraduate Poetry Reading Club is the premier poetry club for Mason undergraduates, serving as a haven for poetry writers and analyzers alike.

The group began as a small, unofficial club last year but transformed into an official student organization this semester when Phebe Ciemny, the club’s leader, took charge.

“[I] wanted to build more of a community for poets at the undergraduate level,” said Ciemny. “It’s kind of like we’re starting fresh this year.”

The club meets three times a month. The first two meetings are more casual readings where club members bounce bounce ideas off of one another and provide each other with feedback. The third meeting is a bigger reading, where members perform their pieces in front of an audience.

At the smaller two meetings, everyone is encouraged to share a piece, and members help each other practice in preparation for the third meeting.  Some members prefer just reading and analyzing poetry, while others enjoy writing it.

For the third meeting, the club books a bigger room on campus and often comes up with a theme, such as a pajama party. Unlike the smaller meetings, which consist mostly of members, these larger readings are open to the public and are viewed as a platform for nonmembers to share their work.

Anthony Frank, a junior at Mason studying art and visual technology with a concentration in media, said that he enjoys writing poetry because it allows him to let loose. “It’s free form more so then academic writing,” said Frank. “[The club is] helping me focus on poetry.”

Ciemny said that she created Ember Poets because she was not satisfied with the current poetry groups at Mason. “[I wanted a club] specific to poetry and what poetry can do,” said Ciemny.

Furthermore, she saw that there was a graduate-level poetry club at Mason but no undergraduate equivalent. She said she decided to start a poetry club open to people of all majors, which has attracted students of all disciplines, even mechanical engineering majors.

Jordan Keller, a junior poetry major, joined Ember Poets this fall. Keller first started writing poetry in high school and said that his background in music has helped him to focus on the “sound” and “rhythm” of writing poetry.

“The club will do a lot for people interested in writing but haven’t had the push to pursue it,” said Keller, who added that he values how the club offers both individual and group feedback to its members.

“[Poetry is] easy to engage in and it’s really cool when you can find your voice,” said Ciemny.

For aspiring poets, Ciemny recommends starting off by reading reading lots of poetry or any preferred literary genre.  “Read anything that inspires you, frustrates you, [and] gets the wheels turning,” she said. “Finding an author that you enjoy can help you find styles and techniques to try out in your own writing.”

When it comes to poetry in her own life, Ciemny said she began writing a lot in high school. “[I became] committed to finding my voice through language and poetry,” she said.

Staying relevant and important in society is a daunting task for modern poets, Ciemny explained.  “A huge part is like ‘what’s the point, why does this matter?’  And also being confident in your voice,” she said. Ember Poets attempts to bring poets together who may struggle with these obstacles on their own.

The dates and times of Ember’s three monthly meetings are not set in stone yet since the club is still fairly new, but interested students can keep track of club updates and meeting times on Get Connected and Facebook.